Menghini, Vincenzo Antonio

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(b. Budrio, Italy, 15 February 1704; d. Bologna, Italy, 27 January 1759)

medicine, chemistry.

Menghini was the son of Domenico Menghini and Bartolomea Benelli. He graduated from the University of Bologna in philosophy and medicine on 18 June 1726. Ten years later he lectured there on logic, In the Following year he lectured on theoretical medicine, and then, from 1738 until his death, he taught practical medicine at the same university. He was a member of the Academy of Sciences of the Bologna Institute, of which he was also president in 1748.

Menghini developed Galeazzi’s research on the presence of iron in the blood, identifying the red corpuscles as the chief site of iron within the organism. He experimentally reduced an organ to ashes, then used a magnetized knife to extract iron particles from it. Since he suspected that the iron particles might be contained in the blood within the organ so treated (especially if it were muscle) he carefully washed out the blood before incinerating it, and found that the number of iron particles did perceptibly decrease. Having thus demonstrated that the iron in an organism is located primarily in the blood, Menghini continued his investigation in an effort to determine which of the three components of the blood—as described by Malpighi in De polypo cordis—actually contained the iron. He used Malpighi’s method of repeatedly washing coagulum to separate the blood into its three parts, then examined each, thus determining that while iron was absent from both the serum and the bleached coagulum, it was abundant in the red corpuscles that remained in the washing liquid.


I. Original Works. Menghini’s writings include “De ferrearum particularum sede in sanguine,” in De Bononiensi scientiarum et artium instituto atque academia commentor it, II , pt. 2 (1746), 244–266; and “De ferrearum particularism progressu in sanguinem,” ibid., pt. 3 (1747), 475–488.

II. Secondary Literature. On Menghini’s and his work see L. Belloni, “La scoperta del ferro nell’organismo,” in Atti dell’Accademia medica lowharda, 20 (1965), 1809 1815; “Dal polipo del cuore (Malpighi 1666) al ferro dei globuii rossi,” in Simposi clinici, 3 (1966), xvii-xxiv; A. Brighetti, “ll Menghini e la scoperta del ferro nel sangue,” in Atti del XXIII Congresso Nazionale di storia della medicina, Modena, 1967 (Rome, n.d,), 63–80; “Una lettera inedita di Vincenzo Menghini ad Ercole Lelli,” in Scritti in onore di Adalberto Pazzini (Rome, 1968), 212–218; and “Una importante memoria inedita del Menghini sul ferro nel sangue,” in La clinica, 28 (1968), 46–56; M. Medici, “Etogio di Vincenzo Menghini,” in Memorie dell’ Accademia delle scienze dell’ Istituto di Bologna. Memorie, 9 (1858), 455–479; and V. Busacchi, “Vincenzo Menghini e la scoperla del ferro nel sangue,” in Bullettino delle scienze mediche, 130 (1958), 202–205.

Luigi Belloni