Niccolò Massa

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Niccolò Massa (Italian pronunciation: [nikkoˈlɔ mˈmassa]; 1485–1569) was an Italian anatomist who wrote an early anatomy text Anatomiae Libri Introductorius in 1536. In 1536 he described the cerebrospinal fluid.

Massa graduated from the Venetian College of Physicians with a degree in surgery in 1515 and then with a degree in medicine in 1521. He lived and practice medicine in Venice his entire life and was one of the most widely respected physicians of the early sixteenth century. IN 1524 he was appointed physician to the Scuola di S. Giorgio, and the nunnery of the Sepulchre. Massa taught, examined candidates and served as Consigliere for the Venetian College of Surgeons as well.[1]

Massa was the author of several works beginning with a book on the French Disease which is commonly equated to modern day syphilis in 1524, Liber morbo gallico which went through several editions. This was followed by a book on anatomy, Liber introductorius anathema a book on fevers, Liber de febre pestilentiali a work in Italian, La loica, divisa in sette libri and a collection of his letters, Epistolae medicinales Printed collections of letters from physicians was a popular genre in the sixteenth century. The letter tended to be written diagnosis and treatment advice, but they touched on a variety of topics. Masha mentioned important topics and figures of his day, including offering his opinion of Andreas Vesalius's Fabrica. Masha wrote two more books, Raggionamento ... sopra le infermitia che vengono dall'aere pestilentiale del presente anno MDL and Diligens examen de venaesectione in febribus ex humorum putredine ortis, the last published just a year before he died.

Massa was a regular dissector of bodies and performed dissections both to study anatomy and to understand the causes of diseases like Syphilis. He was respected enough to have several books dedicated to him. Like many well-known physicians of his day he is less well-known today because his name is not associated with the discovery of any modern medical fact.


  1. ^ Palmer, Richard (1981). "Niccolò Massa, His Family and His Fortune". Med Hist. 25: 385–410. doi:10.1017/s0025727300034888. PMC 1139070. PMID 7038357.