Ida Bianco (1917 - 2006)

Ida Bianco Silverstroni (1917 – 2006) was an Italian physician and haematologist.

Professor Ida Bianco Silvestroni, together with her husband, Ezio Silvestroni, discovered the aetiology of thalassemia in the early 1940’s, advancing the previous work of Cooley (1925). Bianco spent her life researching and fighting for the prevention of Mediterranean anaemia (thalassemia)

scienziata appassionata e grande italiana

  • Born 1917 in Rome Italy
  • 1939 – Clinica medica Universitaria with Prof. Cesare Frugoni
  • 1941 – MD, La Sapienza, University of Rome. Graduated with honors in internal medicine. Haematology research in the Clinica medica Universitaria as a voluntary assistant (without receiving a salary until 1949)
  • 1945 – Married Ezio Silvestroni (1905-1990) taking the name Ida Bianco Silvestroni
  • 1954 – Bianco and Silvestroni founded and directed the Centro studi della microcitemia di Roma
  • 1960 – Founded the Associazione nazionale per la lotta contro le microcitemie to investigate the pathogenesis and determine better treatments for anemias
  • 1977 – Bianco and Silvestroni awarded the Premio internazionale Manca per la medicina
  • 1994 – Conference: La prevenzione dell’anemia mediterranea in Italia, oggi
  • 1999 – Honoured in Rome with the conference “Thalassemic Syndromes: a Symposium in honor of Ezio Silvestroni and Ida Bianco”
  • Died 20 April 2006 in Rome, Italy

Medical Eponyms
Silvestroni-Bianco anaemia (1948)

Archaic term for heterozygotous thalassaemia. A blood disorder having the characteristics of both sickle cell anemia and Mediterranean anemia. In 1943 Silvestroni and Bianco, described a hereditary anomaly, in healthy subjects (7 out of 400 subjects examined) suggesting the name “microcitemia”

Brief history of thalassemia

The Italian physician, Antonio Cardarelli (1821-1937) described “splenic anemia” or “infantile splenic pseudo leukemia”. In 1925 American pediatricians Thomas Benton Cooley (1871-1945) and Pearl Lee described an anemia syndrome in children of Italian and Greek immigrants. They outlined the clinical picture of the disease and called it erythroblastic anemia. It was later termed named Cooley’s anaemia [known today as thalassemia major].

1926 in Italy, Rietti described a disease having a symptomatology similar to the Cooley’s anaemia but lighter, that became known as ‘La Malattia di Rietti-Greppi-Micheli and today as thalassemia intermedia.

The term ‘thalassemia’ was coined in 1932 by George Hoyt Whipple (1878-1976) of the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York. The term is derived from the Greek words ‘thalassa’ (Θάλασσα) meaning ‘sea’ and the suffix -aima (αίμα) or ‘blood,’ denoting the high prevalence of the disorder in people originating from the Mediterranean and Black Seas.

Cooley had described a clinical entity, and it may be wise to use his name to distinguish this disease. We do not like the term “erythroblastic anemia” used by Cooley, as there is nothing especially characteristic about this feature of the blood. The disease is limited almost wholly to Italians, Greeks and Syrians, i. e., to the people originating about the Mediterranean Sea. For this reason the term “thalassemia,” derived from the Greek Θάλασσα , meaning the great sea and used to designate the Mediterranean, may have an appeal.

GH Whipple , WL Bradford. 1932: 364

Major Publications




Beth-Chasty-LITFL author 512-

Studied at University of Leeds-MBChB and Microbiology in Relation to Medicine BSc. British doctor currently working in Emergency Medicine in Perth, Australia.

BA MA (Oxon) MBChB (Edin) FACEM FFSEM. Emergency physician, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.  Passion for rugby; medical history; medical education; and asynchronous learning #FOAMed evangelist. Co-founder and CTO of Life in the Fast lane | Eponyms | Books | Twitter |

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.