History of Nephrology 10 - Introduction

History of Nephrology 10

On history

“Not to know what happened before you were born is to be a child forever. For what is worth the time of a man, except it be interwoven with that memory of ancient things of a superior age?”

Nescire autem quid ante quam natus sis acciderit, id est semper esse puerum. Quid enim est aetas hominis, nisi ea memoria rerum veterum cum superiorum aetate contexitur?

Cicero, Orator Ad M. Brutum (46 BC), Chapter XXXIV, section 120

“Where Do We Come From. What Are We. Where Are We Going”. 


These are the words that Paul Gaugin inscribed in French, without question marks and in capitalized words, on one of his 1897 paintings now at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. These are literary, the very words, now posed with question marks, that Giuseppe Galasso, professor of Contemporary History at the University of Naples used in his description of what is history. “History is the mirror of the present, it nurtures our thinking and our identity. The past has no recipe for today, and we cannot rewrite it at our will. However the study of the past is the inescapable route to walk, to have a look into past in order to understand it. It represents the highroad to social aggregation. I am not aware of any human society which misses the opportunity to write its own narrative. The aim is to answer the fundamental questions: Where do we come from? Where are we going? How do we proceed? The answers to these questions disclose the fundamental function of history. History is not magistra vitae (teacher of life) and does not trace for us the road map for the future which remains our very personal and demanding task. Writing the past, however, is always done departing from it but by taking into consideration the history of the world of those who presently write it, since, as said, history is just the mirror of the world of those who write on it” [1].

On history of nephrology

This definition of history also means that the majority of us write the history of nephrology by taking into account our own concepts of the current state of nephrology worldwide and as perceived from our own local and regional history of nephrology. Our reports are thus the product of our view of the past seen by our own eyeglasses, reflecting our personal characters as the model used to recall the creators of the past, and our ways to relate to each other as the model to interpret the relationship of the past.

On numbers

In writing the history of nephrology, as in most histories of science, numbers are strong signals, are precise, never emphatic, do not lie, and express our rational soul. Numbers have a ”heart and a soul” and “allow us to answer the question who are we?, they are what allows us to make ourselves identified” [2].

As such, the number 10 in the title of this note indicates better than any wordy editorial what has been the work of the IAHN, an Association dedicated to the history of nephrology that began its work even before being organized and registered as an organization. In the present context History of Nephrology 10 expresses our history, the location, the reasons and the work product of our ten congresses in Naples-Montecassino, Kos, Padua, Taormina, Montecassino, Gdansk, Taormina, Torun, Olympia-Patra, and Milazzo. It gives the coordinates of our position, the point where we are and pays a tribute to our founders, our presidents, our councilors and members who can be met on our website.

History of Nephrology 10 honors the memory of our member who planted with us the seeds of IAHN and nurtured it with their work before leaving this world. We like to remember here these past Olympian members of IAHN: Faustino Avagliano, learned, humble but charismatic Director of the Montecassino Archives at the Abbey who prepared for us a catalogue in Latin of the nine codices exhibited during our inaugural founding conference in Naples/Montecassino [Figure 1], Vittorio Bonomini, Arturo Borsatti, Anna Claudia Esposito, Carl W. Gottschalk, Klaus Hierholzer, Eva-Maria Kinne-Saffran, Saulo Klahr, Domenico Mancino, Spyros Marketos, Vincenzo Mezzogiorno, Hirotoshi Mori, Gabriel Richet, George Schreiner, Karl Julius Ullrich, and Gregory Vosnides.

History of Nephrology 10 also reflects an additional story, that of our core activity of promoting the history of nephrology as represented by 153 manuscripts published in regular issues of American Journal of Nephrology and in the 4 monographs published by Karger. To these we have added 158 manuscripts published in the Journal of Nephrology and the 4 monographs published by Wichtig Editore, all listed in our website. Herewith we add 30 papers in the supplement and 1 paper by Garabed Eknoyan in the regular issue of Giornale Italiano di Nephrologia 2016 and in our 9th monograph.

Finally, History of Nephrology 10 tells us that since 2015 we have started an exciting collaboration with ERA-EDTA in a joint effort to promote history sessions in their congress and their official participation in IAHN congresses.


We thank Honorary Member Garabed Eknoyan, who in the spirit of a founder of IAHN is always available to help in any task, as humble as it may be, for the advancement of the history of nephrology.

We thank Biagio Di Iorio, the last ring of a chain of learned SIN (Società Italiana di Nefrologia) editors with interest in the History of Nephrology.

Thanks are due to Simona Saviano for creative support throughout all stages of this supplement.

We also thank the people of Tesi SpA, (Roreto di Cherasco, CN, Italy) publishers of Giornale Italiano di Nefrologia for their enthusiastic support in publishing these proceedings.

The 9th Congress of the International Association for the History of Nephrology in Milazzo (Italy)

9th IAHN Congress

The 9th IAHN Congress, endorsed by ERA-EDTA and the Italian Society of Nephrology, and The Italian Institute for Philosophical Studies, took place at the Eolian Hotel in Milazzo (Messina, Sicily) on October 22-24, 2015. The Italian Society of Nephrology endorsed the congress as one of the 30 events that could receive support in 2015. The collaboration with ERA-EDTA allowed for a joint special tribute to Gabriel Richet. Andrzej Wiecek, President of ERA-EDTA gave a State of the Art Lecture on The History of Chronic Kidney Disease and the Ageing Process, and Angel Argiles, as ERA-EDTA Representative, gave a talk “On the Discovery of Urea”.

The Congress was organized superbly by Professor Biagio Ricciardi. It was composed of 15 session and based on 45 presentations. Congress president Biagio Ricciardi gave an introduction on Arnaldo da Villanova, the great Catalan physician of the 14th century. Arnaldo who was personal doctor of popes Bonifacio VIII, Clemens IX, and Benedict XI, is buried in the Castle Montalbano Elicona, near Milazzo [Figure 2]. A short inspiring visit to the Castle and the tomb was organized for the participants and will enrich the memory of the congress of those who attended.

Honoring Gabriel Richet

A joint IAHN-ERA-EDTA session was dedicated to Gabriel Richet, Honorary Member of IAHN. The session was chaired by Natale G. De Santo and Garabed Eknoyan. It started with a presentation by Raymond Ardaillou, former fellow and friend of Richet. He spoke from the mind and the soul about the signal contributions of “Gabriel Richet: The man and the scientist” in the framework of the nephrology of his times. In the following presentation by Carmela Bisaccia and Natale G. De Santo (Twenty years of collaboration with Gabriel Richet) summarized their common work with Richet by illustrating samples of the 40 letters (only 2 by computer, the remaining handwritten) Gabriel Richet had sent over the years, on the genesis and progress of the various papers they had co-authored and especially the book on “La Costruzione della Scienza Clinica – Hunter, De Sault, and Cotugno” (Naples, 2002). Garabed Eknoyan related on his personal experiences with Gabriel Richet, and the major contributions of Richet to the history of nephrology following his retirement. He highlighted the difficulty Richet had in writing in English in his quest for perfection in everything he undertook. J Stewart Cameron centered his presentation on “My friend Gabriel Richet” relating on the strengths of their lifelong relationship. Boleslaw Rutkowski referred to the ceremonies granting Gabriel Richet the Honorary Medal of the University of Gdansk in 2006. Athanasios Diamandopoulos spoke about “Gabriel Richet honorary member of IAHN” and illustrated some of the topics covered by Richet at past IAHN congresses. Leon Fine, who shared with Richet the editorship of Nephron (the first journal of the ISN) referred to selected events in their collaboration highlighting the strong personality of Richet. Guido Bellinghieri, by means of a video clip of the last presentation at an IAHN congress of Gabriel Richet revived the image of Richet talking about Francophone Nephrology in Taormina in October 2008. It was a most touching moment for everyone to hear again his voice, and to recall his usual vivacious and enthusiastic presentation style. The session was closed by Biagio Ricciardi, President of the IX IAHN Congress, who presented the medal of the congress to Raymond Ardaillou.

Honorary Members

Garabed Eknoyan (Houston) was awarded a diploma of honorary membership of IAHN in Milazzo, thus joining Ori Better (Haifa), J. Stewart Cameron (London), Bernardo D’Onorio (Gaeta), Silvana Favaro (Padua), Klaus Hierholzer (Berlin), Charles Kleeman (Los Angeles), Gerardo Marotta (Naples), Tadeusz Orlowski (Warsaw), Gabriel Richet (Paris), George Schreiner (Great Falls), Donald Seldin (Dallas). Shaul Massry was elected as an IAHN honorary member and will receive the award at the next congress.


Vincenzo Savica was elected President, Janusz Ostrowski, president elect, Athanasios A. Diamandopoulos past president, Lorenzo Calò (2015-2019), secretary and treasurer for the next two years, and Katarina Derzsiova council member for 2015-2019. They will join current council members Ayse Balat (2013-2017), August Heidland (2013-2017), Antonio Mezzogiorno (2013-2017), and Natale G. De Santo (ex officio).

The 10th IAHN Meeting

Planned to take place in 2017 in Wloclawek (Poland) and will be organized by Janusz Ostrowski, Chief of Nephrology at the Provincial Hospital of Wloclawek.

The 11th IAH Meeting

Foreseen to take place in Padua (Italy) in 2019 under the presidency of Professor Lorenzo Calò.

IAHN website

Biagio Ricciardi will continue to be responsible for the IAHN website for the next 3 years.

Medals of the President of the Congress

The specifically coined silver medals (goldsmith Francesco Cosio from Messina) of the congress were awarded by Biagio Ricciardi to Andrzej Wiecek President of ERA-EDTA, Professor Raymond Ardaillou main speaker at the Richet’s session and Athanasios Diamandopoulos for his presidency of IAHN.


[1] Galasso G. La storia è lo specchio del presente. Forma le nostre credenze e identità. Corriere della Sera, Milan, August 6, 2015, p.38, col 1-6

[2] Napoletano R. L’altra Domenica I Radio 24. Il sole 24ore.21/11/2015, p.23, col.1-2