Emmanuel Ciprian Amoroso
- Biologist

“...none has surpassed Emmanuel Ciprian Amoroso in the attainment of international scientific recognition and acclamation, especially in the field of medical research...”
- University of the West Indies citation.

Young embryo and placenta

Professor Emmanuel Ciprian Amoroso is recognised for his work on the structure and function of the placenta. In the early 1950s, he was intrigued by the placenta whose function was poorly understood at the time. He decided to study the structure and function of this organ, which is the “lifeline” between the foetus and the mother. He made a significant breakthrough in understanding placentation, that is, the process by which the placenta is formed. The significance of his work is recorded in Marshall’s Physiology of Reproduction: Volume 2, 3rd edition. His contribution surpassed all others in the field, even up to today. This book sold more copies than all the other volumes and the review is still widely quoted 30 years after publication. His work was the foundation for the study of modern obstetrics and gynaecology. He was a pioneer in the development of the fields of endocrinology and reproductive biology in the world.

Emmanuel Ciprian Amoroso was born in Woodbrook, Port of Spain on 16th September 1901. He attended Newtown Boys’ R.C. Primary School, passing his examinations to attend St Mary's College Trinidad, in 1913. He represented the college in football while a student there. In December 1918, after five years of secondary schooling, he left school without completing his Higher School Certificate examinations. He was plagued by poor eyesight and was unable to write these examinations. When his eyesight had improved somewhat, he resumed his studies. He played for Maple football club and wanted to pursue a career in this sport but his parents did not allow it; they wanted him to become a doctor.

Professor Amoroso with his colleagues

In 1922, Amoroso went to the University College, Dublin, Ireland, to begin his studies in medicine. As an undergraduate, he took all the prizes and assisted in tutoring his classmates in anatomy. He worked in the college as a lab demonstrator and sold newspapers to cover his costs. He also became a competent boxer. In 1926 he graduated with a bachelor of science degree. After graduation, he taught pharmacology at the university, and in 1929 he completed his bachelor of medicine and surgery with first class honours.

He was awarded a travelling fellowship from the National University of Ireland, and spent two years in Germany. He studied at the Albert-Ludwigs University in Freiburg and at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Cell Research in Berlin. He published his first scientific paper in German on pancreas development in the chick. He embarked on a Ph.D. at the University College, London and graduated in 1934.

That same year, he was offered a position at the Royal Veterinary College, London where he spent most of his career. He joined the institution as a Senior Assistant in charge of Histology and Embryology. There he faced the challenge of some jealous and racist staff members, who did not accept his colour and his brilliance. The College focussed on horse diseases and was slow to extend its research to domestic and exotic animals. Amoroso had much broader interests, however, notably in research in the anatomy of the placenta of different animals.

In the course of his studies, he laid the groundwork in the study of cell structure and cell function which led to his interest in the development of organisms. He studied the organs of pregnancy and the glands of internal secretion, as well as the reproductive behaviour of many species of animals; germ cells of the cow, sheep and goat to name a few; the eggs of birds and mammals; and the heart and lungs of an elephant foetus. He also researched the valves of the jugular vein of the giraffe, camel and ostrich which prevent the rush of blood to the head as the animal lowers its neck to drink water.

His work on the specialised reproductive organ - the placenta - led to understanding its structure and function. At this time Professor Amoroso was in his fifties and he continued studying the role of placenta hormones in the evolution of viviparity, respiration, lactation and fetal endocrinology.

Apart from his scientific achievements, Professor Amoroso possessed an extraordinary gift for communication. He was a masterful and engaging lecturer in several languages (he was functional in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian). He had an amazing command of English and spoke with clarity and eloquence. These skills made him a renowned educator.

In 1947 he was appointed to the Chair of Veterinary Physiology at the Royal Veterinary College - a post he held until his retirement in 1968. In 1957 he achieved the highest honour for his field, and was admitted to the Fellowship of the Royal Society of England. He is said to have created the finest department of veterinary physiology in England. In 1959 Professor Amoroso was honoured by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons when he was made an honorary associate member of the college.

From 1962 to 1967 he was in charge of the Anatomy Department at the Royal Veterinary College. At this point in his career, the National University of Ireland conferred an honorary doctorate upon him. In 1968 he was conferred with the title of Professor Emeritus of Veterinary Physiology of the University of London. In 1969 the British Government conferred upon him the award of Commander of the Order of the British Empire, (CBE).

In 1971, the University of the West Indies at St. Augustine, Trinidad named him Professor Emeritus Emmanuel Ciprian Amoroso, with the degree of Doctor of Science honoris causa in recognition of his research and contributions to the development of the field of medicine. Despite the numerous awards and fellowships which he had already obtained, the one he cherished most was the nation’s highest honour, the Trinity Cross, awarded by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago in 1977.

After his retirement, Professor Amoroso continued his research. He developed an interest in manatee and green turtle conservation. He was able to breed and conserve these turtles from near extinction due to the thriving soup market in the 1970s. He published his last paper at the age of 80 having amassed over 144 publications. Emmanuel Ciprian Amoroso died on 30 October 1982.

 

 
Sources:

Anthony, Michael (2000) A master of medicine Emmanuel Ciprian Amoroso. Trinidad Express 9 August 2000: 38-39

Bartholomew, Courtenay (2001) Emmanuel Ciprian Amoroso Irish Journal of Medical Science Vol. 170 (4) 261-263.

Bartholomew, Courtenay (1982) Tribute to Emmanuel Amoroso Sunday Guardian 7 November 1982: 17

“Professor Emmanuel Ciprian Amoroso” Orations vol. 2 1968-1973. The Public Orator. Mona: UWI, 1975: 36

WI University Citations for Honorary Degrees 1965-1973 (available from Main Library, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine. Call number UWI LE15.W635D3W529C5).

Weblinks:

A biblography on Ciprian Amoroso - written by Professor Courtenay Bartholomew

Selected Publications:

Amoroso, C.E. (1931) Die Zuchtung von Epithel des embryonalen Huhnerpankreas. Arch. Zellforsch. 12, 274-300.

Amoroso, C.E. (1934) Observations on the development of the urinogenital system of the rabbit, with special reference to the development of the Müllerian ducts. Ph.D. Thesis, University of London.

Amoroso, C.E. and Griffiths, W.F.B. (1939) The placentation of the Blackbuck (Antelope cervicapra) with remarks on some features of the placentation of the cow, sheep and goat. J. Anat. 73, 675-676.

Amoroso, C.E., Barclay, A.E., Franklin, K.J. and Prichard, M.L. (1941) Observations on the cardiovascular system and lungs of an African elephant foetus. J. Anat. 76, 100-111.

Amoroso, C.E., Edholm, G. and Rewell, R.E. (1947) Venous valves in the giraffe, okapi, camel and ostrich. Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond. 117, 43 5-440

Amoroso, C.E., Bainbridge, J.G., Bell, F.R., King, A.S., Lawn, A.M. and Rosenberg, H. (1951) Observations on circulation and respiration in the badger and lion. J.Physiol. Lond. 113 2P.

Amoroso, C.E. (1952) Placentation. In: Marshall’s Physiology of Reproduction, 3rd Ed. Vol.2., pp127-309. Ed. A.S. Parkes. Longman Green, London.

Amoroso, C.E. (1955) The comparative anatomy and histology of the placental barrier. In: Gestation pp. 119-224. Ed. Louis B. Flexner. Josiah Macy, Jr Foundation Publications. Princeton.

Amoroso, C.E. (1955) Endocrinology of pregnancy. Br. Med. Bull. 11,117-125.

Amoroso, C. E. (1959) Comparative anatomy of the placenta. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 75, 855-872.

Amoroso, C.E. (1961) Histology of the placenta. Br. Med. Bull. 17,81-90.

Amoroso, C.E. (1970) The development of the early embryo. Science Journal, 6, 59-64.

Amoroso, C.E. and Porter, D.G. (1970) The endocrine functions of the placenta. In: Scientific Foundaions of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, pp. 556-586. Eds. E.E. Philipp, J. Barnes and M. Newton. Heinemann, London.

Amoroso, C.E., Aitken, R.N.C. and Solomon, S.E. (1976) Observations on the histology of the ovary of the Coast Rican Green Turtle, Chelonia mydas. L.J. exp. Mar. Ciol. Ecol. 24, 189-204.

Amoroso, C.E. and Porter, D.G. (1977) The endocrine functions of the placenta. In Scientific Foundations of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 2nd Edition. pp. 675-712 Eds. E.E. Philipp, J. Barnes and M. Newton. Heinemann, London.

Amoroso, C.E. (1981) Viviparity. In Cellular and Molecular Aspects of Implantation, pp. 3-25. Eds. S.R. Glasser and D.W. Bullock. Plenum Press, New York.

Education:

  • St. Mary’s College, Trinidad

  • University College, Dublin Ireland – Bachelor of Science 1926, Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery 1929

  • Albert-Ludwigs University in Freiburg, Germany

  • Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Cell Research in Berlin, Germany

  • University College, London - Ph.D. 1934.

Memberships:

  • Honorary Associate Member, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (1960)

  • Member, Society of Endocrinology

  • Member, Physiological Society

Awards:

  • Doctor of Science, London University

  • Doctor of Medicine, London University

  • Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Santiago

  • Doctor of Science, honoris causa, University of Illinois, USA

  • Doctor of Science, honoris causa, University of Nottingham, England

  • Doctor of Science, honoris causa, University of Guelph, Ontario

  • Trinity Cross, Government of Trinidad and Tobago (1976)

  • Doctor of Science, honoris causa, University of the West Indies (1971)

  • Commander of the Order of the British Empire, (CBE) (1969)

  • Honorary Doctorate, National University of Ireland (1963)

Fellowships:
  • Fellowship of the University College, London (1968)

  • Fellow Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (1966)

  • Fellow Royal College of Surgeons (1960)

  • Fellow of the Royal Society of England (1957)

  • Fellow Royal College of Physicians

  • Fellow Royal College of Pathologists

  • Fellow Royal Veterinary College

  • Fellow of Australian Academy

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