Giovanni Pascale, the indefatigable luminary of oncology

by Leonardo Quagliuolo

John Pascale, famous for his role as oncologistHe was actually a doctor in the round: enraptured by the multiple addresses of medicine, he devoted himself to it for the rest of his life with extreme dedication, putting all of himself into it. Born in Faicchio, in the province of Beneventoon March 19, 1859, by Alessio Pascale and Filomena Palmieri, lived in a wealthy context, but decided to move away from his hometown to pursue his desire: studying medicine, which he enrolled in 1878. He was a pupil of important doctors of his time, such as the famous Antonio Cardarelli, or even Professor Antonino d' Antona, whose assistant he became.

Giovanni Pascale
John Pascale

Beginnings in the world of medicine and politics:

He graduated in 1884 from the University of Naples Federico II. He continued his medical career as assistant of professor d' Antona until 1900. He wanted to devote himself to teaching, obtaining his first chair as extraordinary professor of surgical pathology in 1903. Subsequently, he became head of the hospital of Santa Maria della Pace, in the historical center of Naples.

s. maria della pace
Plaque at the entrance of the hospital S. Maria della pace. By: Derve Suburban

In 1908, he successfully obtained the post of full professorby vote of one special committee appointed by the Minister of Education, for its "Unquestionable teaching ability and activities and skills as Director of a clinical institute". His fame grew in the years to come, along with the number of publications he authored, dealing with a wide variety of topics, such as bone grafts, liver cirrhosis or surgical therapy of aneurysms. He distinguished himself for the training he gave to the staff of his department, placing Special attention to sterilization of surgical instruments.

In 1912, turning again attention to the Benevento area, his native land, he introduced himself to the local politicsand in particular between Cerreto Sannita e Telese. After a tiring year of campaigning, despite the 'appreciation of his fellow citizens, was not elected, probably for political inexperience compared to his opponents, d 'Andrea and Venditti, known local politicians. He decided, so to Continue to pursue a career in the hospitalwhich he carried out with rigor and passion even with the outbreak of the first world war.

Pascale and the Great War:

Directed as general medical the health committee of the X and XI Corps d 'Army and was among the advocates of' military hospital "MMXVI", which would later be adapted to asylum for the children of war victims. In 1915, moved to Beneventowhere he organized and directed the hospital of the Red Cross local, of which he would become president a few years later. At the end of the conflict, he decided to focus his attentions on the war veterans suffering from tuberculosisHe was committed to building hospitals dedicated to them and to prevention campaigns, especially for children. For the latter, he created in his native country a foundation where he could receive and provide education for war orphans.

Shortly afterwards, in Naples, at the Policlinico built at the behest of Mayor Luigi Miraglia a few years earlier, he established the "diagnostic and curative center for malignant tumors", which he personally directed.

The peak of the career and the last years:

He returned to the political scene in 1919, succeeding in gaining the nomination of Senator of the Kingdom of Italy. Since then, consecrated to the political life by his people, he held this role several times, until his death. Also in politics, did not forget his patients, directing many of his parliamentary interventions towards tuberculosis patients. In the years to follow, his figure also imposed itself at international level, thanks to his important achievements: he was a member of the Higher Council of Education, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine of Naples, founder of the scientific journal "Annals of Surgery"and president of Italian Society of Surgeryas well as the Italian League for the fight against cancer.

Vecchio policlinico
First polyclinic in Naples. By: Himetop

From 1929 until his death, he was also a member of the "Judicial Commission of the High Court of Justice“.

It was also a freemasonenrolled in Lausanne Lodge of Naplessimilarly to other prominent names of the time, such as Leonardo Bianchi o Giuseppe Moscati.

But his mission as a physician doesn't end there: The October 19, 1933 established the "Giovanni Pascale Foundationfor research and the fight against cancerwhich saw the first building constructed in 1934 and which, in 1940, received recognition as a "Institute of hospitalization and care with scientific character". Today it is a reference point in its field and its staff is dedicated to this and other "battles" with the same dedication of its founder.

Istituto Pascale
A facade of the Pascale hospital. From: Pascale Foundation

Giovanni Pascale died on October 28, 1936, at the age of 77. In spite of his advanced age, irreducible, he continued to operate. And it is just in the operating room Who, that night, during an intervention, fell ill. His assistants would have wanted to help him, but it seems that, in collapsing to the ground, he told them "Carry on, don't think about me!“.

-Leonardo Quagliuolo

I dedicate this story to Dr. Paolo Antonio Ascierto and to all the staff of Pascale Hospital for their daily commitment and the prestige they give to our city.


"Official Bulletin of the Ministry of Public Instruction," 1908.

Biography of Senator Pascale

Political history of Giovanni Pascale

Pascale Institute

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