Luna, Emerico

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Luna, Emerico

(b. Palermo, Italy, 6 January 1882; d. Palermo, 4 December 1963)


Born into a socially prominent family, Luna studied at the Institute of Histology of the University of Palermo. He received his degree with honors and became an assistant at the Institute of Normal Human Anatomy. He was made a full professor in 1922. Luna founded the Italian Anatomical Society and served as secretary until his death.

Luna was among the first to suture the heart successfully and to introduce the teaching of radiological anatomy. He was also active in politics and served as a deputy from Palermo and as a city councillor in Palermo. A major interest was expanded medical care for the poor, and he introduced legislation toward this end.

Luna’s earliest studies dealt with the morphology of the cerebellum and with the projection on its surface of the cerebellar nuclei, in order to avoid them in the successive experimental extirpation of sections of the lobulus paramedianus, of the formatio vermicular is and of the curs secundum. By applying Marchi’s method he demonstrated the course of the degenerated bundles and was able to localize the motor center in the cortex of the internal segment of the anterior lunated lobulus; he further demonstrated that for movements of the neck in the lobules simplex the fibers follow the cerebrospinal fasciculus, the presence of which he confirmed in the dog.

In later investigations Luna demonstrated the nerve paths which proceed from the intermediate nerve and the vago-glosso-pharyngeal complex to the cerebellum and the spino-olivari fibers that terminate in the reticular substance of the medulla oblongata. He also carried out investigations on the development and morphology of the intercalated nucleus of Staderini, and he described the existence of a nucleus situated ventrally to that of the hypoglossus inSus schrooha (1). These studies preceded those of other investigators on the tegmental rhombencephalic centers.

In histology Luna studied the fine structure and nature of the reticular tissue and published a masterly and still authoritative monograph (2). He also studied the relation between the diameter of the capillaries and the size of the subject, the lymphatics of the lung, the morphology of the suprarenals, and muscular and vascular anomalies. He wrote many distinguished books, both literary and scientific, among which are the magnificent volume on the nervous system (3) in Bertell’s Trattato di anatomic umana and on regional clinical anatomy (4).


Luna’s writings include (1) “Ricerche istologiche sopra un nucleo riscontrato nel rombencefalo di Sus schropha” in Folia neuro-biologica,, 5 , no. 1 (1911); (2) “Studio sul tessuto reticolare,” in Ricerche di morfologia1 (1921); (3) vol. V of the Trattato di anatomia umana, Bertelli, ed., 2nd ed. (Milan, 1938); (4) Trattato di anatomia clinica regionale (Florence, 1948).

Ignazio Fazzari