(b. Civitanova del Sannio, Campobasso, Italy, 19 March 1864 ; d. Naples, Italy, 22 March 1933)
pathological anatomy and histology.
After graduating in medicine and surgery at Naples in 1887, Pianese began his scientific career in 1890 as a pupil at the local Anatomical-Pathological Institute, then directed by Otto von Schrön. He became assistant in 1896, supervisor of autopsies in 1897, lecturer in pathological anatomy in 1899 and in pathological histology in 1901, acting professor of the latter subject in 1903, and associate professor of pathological histology in 1904. After qualifying as associate professor of pathological anatomy at Parma and as professor at Turin in 1902, Pianese was appointed associate professor at Cagliari by competitive examination in 1905; from there, a year later, he moved to Naples as professor of pathological histology. He became full professor of pathological anatomy in 1910; and seven years later he succeeded Schrön as head of the Naples Anatomical-Pathological Institute, a post he retained until his death. In 1932 he was appointed to the Accademia d’Italia.
Pianese’s scientific work was characterized by scrupulous technique, keen observation, great restraint, and independence of thought, as was shown by his first works on chloralism (1890), on FedeRiga disease and Cardarelli’s cachectic aphthae, on the nerve endings in the pericardium, and on the capsule of the carbuncle bacillus (1892). Although he had received excellent classical anatomical pathological training, Pianese was above all a histopathologist, with a broad background in microbiology, who was also concerned with general histopathology and experimental biology. An example in this field is his work of 1903 on splenectomy in the guinea pig, in which he notes the manifold effects on bodily development, resistance to infections, various organic reactions, and the morphological constitution of the hematopoietic organs. In some respects he anticipated the successive observations of other writers on the metabolic functions of the spleen, on the possible formation of antibodies in the spleen, on the “splenization” of the liver, and on the revitalization of the lymphoid tissue in the bone marrow after splenectomy. The concern with heredity in this work is also worthy of note.
Pianese’s interest in histopathology is also demonstrated by the staining methods he devised, some of which are still used. An area of Pianese’s work, important during his lifetime, dealt with minute cytological analysis of malignant tumors. He confirmed the morbidity of the tumor cells and pointed out the paradox that they exhibit great lability and a tendency to degenerative and necrotic processes along with enormous proliferative power.
Pianese’s name was particularly linked to infective splenic anemia of infancy, which he first recognized as caused by a protozoan of the genus Leishmania. It is distinct from other forms of infantile splenic anemia that have a different and multiple etiological basis; but it is very similar to anemia of the Far East (kala-azar), with which it constitutes a visceral leishmaniasis group, frequently also found in the Mediterranean area.
Other significant studies by Pianese included papers on Sydenham’s chorea, the reticuloendothelial system, parasites and protozoans, and his tolytic phenomena in tumors.
Pianese’s main published works include Beitrag zur Histologie und Aetiologie des Carcinoms, R. Teuscher, trans . (Jena, 1897), which is supp . I of E . Ziegler and C . Nauwerck. Beiträge zur pathologischen Antomie und Physiologie; La techina della autopsie (Milan, 1911); and Lezioni di anatomia pataologica generale (Naples, 1927).
On his life and work, see Pietro Rondoni, “Giuseppe Pianese,” in Annuario dell’ Accademia d’Itlaia, 7–9 (1938), 382–393; and Guglielmo Scala, “Giuseppe Pianese, Accademico d’Italia,” in Rassegna di terapia epatologia clinica,4, no. 3 (Mar. 1932), 172- 181 . There are obituaries in Archivio italiono di anatomia e istologia patologica, 4 (Mar-Apr 1933), 145-148; Folia medica,19 (30 Mar 1933), 343–349; Riforma medica,49 (1 Apr 1933), 503–504; Rinasceza medica,10 (1 Apr. 1933), ccxv ccxvii; Morgagni,75 (2 Apr 1933) 443–444; Archivio di radiologia9 (May-June 1933), 627-628; and Pediatria,41 (May 1933), 711–712.