Papers of Castellani, Sir Aldo (1877-1971)

Scope and Content

Papers of Sir Aldo Castellani, 1924-1951, comprise correspondence and reprints of publications and articles. Correspondence relates to his role in the School of Tropical Medicine as lecturer and Director of Tropical Mycoses including the establishment of the Ross Institute, his work as a lecturer at the School, terms and conditions of his appointment as Director of Studies on Tropical Mycoses; telegrams from overseas; press cuttings on his return to Italy to fight against the allies in World War Two.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir Aldo Castellani was born and educated in Florence; qualified in medicine in 1899, and after working in Bonn came to London to the School of Tropical Medicine in 1901. Through Manson's recommendation he joined the Royal Society Commission on Sleeping Sickness as its bacteriologist, and left London for Entebbe, Uganda with George Carmichael Low and Cuthbert Christie in 1902. His early observation of a trypanosome in the cerebro-spinal fluid of a sleeping sickness sufferer without initially realising its importance gave rise to a famous controversy involving Sir David Bruce and others.

In 1903 he was appointed Bacteriologist to the Government of Ceylon and was housed in the Central laboratory in Colombo where he carried on his research, notably in the virgin field of mycology and in bacteriology where he described several new species of intestinal bacilli and invented the absorption test for the serological identification of closely allied organisms. He left Ceylon in 1915 to take the Chair of Medicine in Naples.

Castellani became involved in the war in Serbia and Macedonia, 1915-1918, where he was a member of the Inter-Allied Sanitary Commission. In 1919 he came to London as Consultant to the Ministry of Pensions and set up in consulting practice in Harley Street. With Sir William Simpson, he began a movement to establish the Ross Institute where he became Physician and Mycologist. When the Institute became part of London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 1934, Castellani became Director of Mycology and Mycological Diseases in the School, before his enthusiasm for Royal and potentially eminent patients (including Mussolini) further clouded his reputation. He finally followed the Queen of Italy into exile in Portugal and ended his long life as Professor at Lisbon's Institute of Tropical Medicine. Castellani died in 1971.


Arranged into two sections correspondence file and reprints of articles and publications.

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Archivist's Note

Compiled by Victoria Killick, LSHTM Archivist and edited by Samantha Velumyl, AIM25 cataloguer. Sources: Prevention and Cure The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, A 20th Century Quest for Global Public Health Lise Wilkinson and Anne Hardy (Kegan Paul Limited, 2001) and History of the School of Tropical Medicine in London (1899-1949) by Sir Philip Manson-Bahr (H K Lewis & Co Ltd, 1956, London).

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Photocopies, subject to the condition of the original, may be supplied for research use only. Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Archivist