Domenico Marotta

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The ISS in Rome, of which Marotta was director

Domenico Marotta (born July 29, 1886 in Palermo , † March 30, 1974 in Rome ) was an Italian chemist . From 1935 to 1961 he was director of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS) in Rome, the Italian national health institute.


Marotta studied chemistry at the University of Palermo with a Laureate degree from Giorgio Errera in 1910. In the same year, he received an award for his involvement in combating a cholera epidemic. In 1911 he moved to Rome and became a chemist in the public health department. After winning a competition for the professorship in analytical chemistry at the University of Florence, he became director of the newly founded ISS in Rome in 1935, which he built up and remained director until his retirement in 1961. In 1938 he founded their magazine (Revista dell ISS, from 1964 Annali dell ISS).

In 1946, the ISS had the only (Italian) electron microscope that replaced the Siemens microscope that was confiscated by the Germans in 1943, and one of the main objectives from the very beginning was the ultimate eradication of malaria in Italy, as a result of which the physician Alberto Missiroli (1883–1951), who had worked on it with funds from the Rockefeller Foundation since the 1920s, was significantly involved. Marotta brought important scientists such as Ernst Boris Chain (who set up a penicillin production facility in the early 1950s) and Daniel Bovet to the institute.

Upon retirement, an employee made allegations of alleged irregularities in his tenure. At that time, the state scientific organizations and institutes (especially the ISS and the nuclear research institute) were reorganized within the framework of the new center-left coalition, and there was political friction, in the case of the ISS particularly over the question of Marotta's successor. Marotta was briefly arrested and charged (April 8-15) in 1964. He refused to take the charges seriously, cited his great contributions to the republic and his age, and refused to attend the trial. It was negotiated in absentia and Marotta was initially sentenced to over six years in prison. Marotta received great international and national support from scholars. The Academy refused to depose him as president and Ernst Chain called the trial an intrigue in Science magazine , earning him a disregard charge. In 1969, on appeal, his sentence was reduced to two years and nine months, and in 1971 the Supreme Court of Cassation declared the sentence lapsed under the 1966 amnesty.

Domenico Marotta received the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic in 1958 . From 1962 to 1974 he was President of the Accademia Nazionale delle Scienze . In 1964 he received an honorary doctorate in biology from the University of Rome.


Individual evidence

  1. Leonello Paoloni, Biography of Marotta, 2013, see Related links