Bizzozero, Giulio


Giulio Bizzozero (1846–1901) was an Italian pathologist, histologist and haematologist. He was the central figure of the modernisation of medical research and practice after the unification of Italy. A gifted researcher and teacher, a talented science manager and committed populariser and an institutional reformer, he profoundly influenced at least two generations of Italian physicians. He gained international recognition for his pioneering studies on the role of lymphocytes in tissue regeneration, on the haematopoietic function of the bone marrow, on platelets and their role in the processes of coagulation and thrombosis and for his classification of tissues according to their regenerative powers, whereas his important contributions revealing phagocytosis and his discovery of desosomes and of Helicobacter pylori were recognised only after his premature death.

Key Concepts:

  • Giulio Bizzozero was the central figure of the modernisation of medicine in Italy in the second half of the nineteenth century.

  • Giulio Bizzozero established microscopy, histology and experimentalism in Italian medicine.

  • Among the instruments he invented were a technique for observing circulating blood in vivo, a chromocytometer, a method to count the platelets in flowing blood and a method to quantify the amount of mitotic cells in tissues.

  • Giulio Bizzozero pioneered the study of the connective tissue, of epithelioma formation and described in detail the role of mobile cells in the process of wound healing and regeneration.

  • His haematological studies (haematopoiesis, the discovery of the platelets and their role in thrombosis) and his classification of tissues based on the amount of labile, static and perennial cells they contain earned him international recognition.

  • The importance of his pioneering reports on phagocytosis and his description of Helicobacter and of desosomes were recognised only years after his death.

Keywords: connective tissue; blood; Virchow; phagocytosis; lymphocytes; platelets; thrombosis; stem cells

Figure 1.

Giulio Bizzozero (left), Albert von Koelliker (centre) and Camillo Golgi (right) in Pavia in the summer of 1900. Reproduced with permission of Sistema Museale di Ateneo – Università di Pavia.

Figure 2.

Mobile cells found in the experimentally injured skin tissue of the frog. They contain many fat granules, the lower cell also a red blood corpuscle. From Bizzozero Tav. II B, Figure 11. Reproduced with permission of Fondo libraio Fisiologia umana del Dipartimento DIBINEM, Università di Bologna.

Figure 3.

Platelets observed in a small artery of the mesentery of guinea pig: (a) from above, (b) laterally and (c) red blood corpuscle. From Bizzozero Tav. 12A, Figure . Reproduced with permission of Fondo libraio Fisiologia umana del Dipartimento DIBINEM, Università di Bologna.

Figure 4.

Formation of a thrombus. Numerous platelets agglomerate and fuse together to form granular masses with long fibrin filaments; y leucocyte. From Bizzozero Tav. 12A, Figure 12. Reproduced with permission of Fondo libraio Fisiologia umana del Dipartimento DIBINEM, Università di Bologna.



Bizzozero G (ed.) (1879) Manuale di microscopia clinica. Con aggiunte riguardanti l'uso del microscopio nella medicina legale. Milano: Fr. Vallardi Editore (2nd edition, 1882; 5th edition, 1901).

Bizzozero G (1882) Ueber einen neuen Formbestandtheil des Blutes und dessen Rolle bei der Thrombose und der Blutgerinnung – Untersuchungen. Archiv für pathologische Anatomie und Physiologie und für klinische Medicin 90: 261–332 (English translation by EA Beck On a new blood particle and its role in thrombosis and blood coagulation. Bern: Verlag Hans Huber: 1982.).

Bizzozero G (1905) Le opere scientifiche di Giulio Bizzozero. Introduzione del prof. Camillo Golgi, 2 vols. Milano: U. Hoepli.

Cappelletti V (1968) Bizzozero, Giulio. Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani 10: 747–751.

Dröscher A (1996) Die Zellbiologie in Italien im 19.Jahrhundert. Leipzig: Barth Verlag.

Dröscher A (1998) La ‘Cellularpathologie’ di Rudolf Virchow e il rinnovamento della medicina italiana nella seconda metà dell'Ottocento. Annali dell’Istituto storico italo‐germanico in Trento 24: 87–112.

Franceschini P (1962) La conoscenza dei tessuti connettivi nelle ricerche di Giulio Bizzozero. Physis 4: 227–267.

de Gaetano G and Cerletti C (2002) Platelet adhesion and aggregation and fibrin formation in flowing blood: a historical contribution by Giulio Bizzozero. Platelets 13(2): 85–89.

Marshak DR, Gottlieb D and Gardner RL (2001) Introduction: stem cell biology. Stem Cell Biology 40: 1–16.

Mazzarello P, Calligaro AL and Calligaro A (2001) Giulio Bizzozero: a pioneer of cell biology. Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology 2: 776–784.

Further Reading

(2002) Convegno per il centenario della morte di Giulio Bizzozero. Accademia di Medicina di Torino, 14–15 Maggio 2001, Varese.

Dianzani MU (1994) Bizzozero and the discovery of platelets. American Journal of Nephrology 14: 330–336.

Dröscher A (1996) Bizzozero, Giulio. In: Bynum WF and Bynum H (eds) Dictionary of Medical Biography, vol. 1, pp. 221–223. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group.

Figura N and Bianciardi L (2002) Helicobacters were discovered in Italy in 1892: an episode in the scientific life of an eclectic pathologist, Giulio Bizzozero. In: Marshall B (ed.) Helicobacter Pioneers: Firsthand Accounts from the Scientists Who Discovered Helicobacters, pp. 1–13. Victoria, Australia: Blackwell Science Asia.

(1996) Giulio Bizzozero: cento anni di cellule labili, stabili e perenni (Atti del Convegno). Accademia delle Scienze di Torino – Quaderni 3: 1–77.

Gravela E (1989) Giulio Bizzozero. Torino: Allemandi.

Ribatti D and Crivellato E (2007) Giulio Bizzozero and the discovery of platelets. Leukemia Research 31(10): 1339–1341.

Contact Editor close
Submit a note to the editor about this article by filling in the form below.

* Required Field

How to Cite close
Dröscher, Ariane(Jun 2013) Bizzozero, Giulio. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0025073]