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Storia Ed Eccellenze - Lab Chimica Via Taramelli nel 1935


A chemistry laboratory in via Taramelli (1935). ASUPv.

In Pavia, the teaching of chemistry officially began in 1770 with the establishment, commissioned by Maria Theresa of Habsburg, of the chair of Chemistry, Materia medica and Botany in the Medical Faculty. The first professor was Giovanni Battista Borsieri de Kanilfeld. Considered mainly in its relationship with medicine, the teaching of chemistry could make use of the pharmaceutical laboratory functioning at the San Matteo Hospital. The construction of a new laboratory oriented towards chemical research (especially inorganic at that time) was immediately started, and in 1784 this was fully functional at the Botanical Garden thanks to the activity of Giovanni Antonio Scopoli called to Pavia in 1776 to hold the two distinct teachings of Chemistry and Botany. After his death and the events following the French Revolution, the two teachings were definitively separated, indeed, with the spread of the nouvelle chimie, a chair of "general" Chemistry entrusted to Luigi Valentino Brugnatelli and one of Pharmaceutical Chemistry entrusted to Francesco Marabelli were activated at the same time. The first dedicated to the preparation of physicians, the second to that of pharmacists. Thanks to the scientific journals founded by Luigi Valentino Brugnatelli Pavia witnessed the international debate that arose around Lavoisier's theories. From 1815 the two chemical professorships were reunited and had their own "theater" or a lecture-hall dedicated to the teaching of Chemistry in the central building. In addition to the “classroom”, there were workshops and teachers' studios. Unfortunately in 1861 a fire destroyed the lecture-hall and the chemists returned to the botanical garden. At the same time the chairs of: General and Inorganic Chemistry with Tullio Brugnatelli and Technical Chemistry with Angelo Pavesi were definitively separated; the latter was later called Pharmaceutical and Toxicological Chemistry. Both professorships merged into the new Faculty of Mathematical, Physical and Natural Sciences established following the Casati law of 1859. From the didactic point of view, while the first continued the preparation of physicians and activated new courses, the second devoted itself to that of pharmacists, assuming autonomy of School in 1877.The Faculty of Sciences MM, FF, NN provided four-year degree courses in: mathematics, physics, chemistry, natural history. Around the 70s of the nineteenth century a four-year degree course became totally chemical, in the meantime the School of Pharmacy awarded a four-year mixed chemical-pharmaceutical degree alongside the diploma for free practice as pharmacists, obtained with two years of theoretical courses. The mixed degree was abolished with the establishment of the School of Pharmacy as Faculty in 1933. Until 1935 the two laboratories, later called institutes, remained next to each other in the Botanical Garden. In that year, both were moved to their new twin locations in via Taramelli.

Already in the first decade of the twentieth century, the teaching of physical chemistry was separated from that of general chemistry but was always held by a teacher with a renewable appointment, very often entrusted to the same professor of general chemistry, as it was for Giuseppe Oddo, Giulio Natta and Giorgio Renato Levi. In the 1940s, the implementation of a new study plan, which extended the degree course in Chemistry to five years, required the activation of a new chair and for the academic year 1944-45 the physical chemist Giovanni Battista Bonino was called by transfer from Bologna. In the year 1949-50 Mario Rolla, a pupil of Bonino and winner of the competition, took possession of the chair of Physical Chemistry and began the establishment of an independent institute. The new building was inaugurated on January 1, 1954. Later, the chair of Electrochemistry was also housed in it.

The teaching of organic chemistry was already separated from general and inorganic chemistry at the beginning of the chairs in the Faculty of Sciences with positions held by the same professor as Angelo Pavesi and Giorgio Errera or by assistants to the chair of chemistry such as Efisio Mameli and Giunio Bruto Crippa. With the academic year 1962-63 a new professor, Paolo Grünanger was specially called to teach this discipline. The institute of organic chemistry was first housed at the general chemistry and then from 1965-66 had its own headquarters, obtained from the expansion of the existing building structure in via Taramelli. In order to cover the new teaching needs with the return of an Engineering Faculty to the University of Pavia, a second professor of general and inorganic chemistry was called for the academic year 1961-62. Mario Alberto Rollier brought his experience in the very new field of radiochemistry to Pavia.

Classical aspects of chemistry such as analytics and commodities, scientifically never neglected, had the dignity of an independent chair at the Institute of General and Inorganic Chemistry. Giulio Natta himself, the only Italian Nobel laureate in Chemistry, as full professor in Pavia was also the holder of the course in Analytical Chemistry in 1934-35 and in the early twentieth century Bernardo Oddo was in charge of teaching analytical chemistry. Bernardo Oddo a chemist known for magnesil pyrrole, cited by Victor Grignard himself in his "Nobel Lecture ”, was later remembered as professor and director of the School of Pharmacy,. Oddo also held a similar free course in the Special School of Industrial Chemistry officially founded in 1916 at the University of Pavia. The school, the first in Italy, was located next to Palazzo Botta, where an Institute of Industrial Chemistry was specially set up. In 1924-25 the chair was transferred to the newly founded State University of Milan where in 1926 the degree in Industrial Chemistry began.

All these historical souls of chemistry have merged into the Department of Chemistry in force since 2012 with headquarters in via Taramelli.

"Edited by Giorgio Giacomo Mellerio"

Bibliographical references

G.G. Mellerio,
ʺNihil est in intellectu quod non prius fuerit in sensu. La Chimica a Pavia nella prima metà dell’Ottocento”.
pp. 873-876. In Almum Studium Papiense. Storia dell’Università di Pavia
ISBN:978-88-205-1091-6 vol. Vol. 2 t. II, 2017

G.G. Mellerio,
“ La Facoltà di Scienze. Chimica”.
pp. 1363-1376. In Almum Studium Papiense. Storia dell’Università di Pavia
ISBN:978-88-205-1091-6 vol. Vol. 2 t. II, 2017

G.G. Mellerio,
“ La Facoltà di Scienze. La Chimica”.
pp. 443-456. In Almum Studium Papiense. Storia dell’Università di Pavia
ISBN:978-88-205-1091-6 vol. Vol. 3 t. I, 2020.