PLACENTA: the organ in the womb through which the young mammal is nurtured in the mother’s body


PHYSIOLOGY: the branch of science that deals with the normal functioning of living things


ANATOMY: the science of the structure of the bodies of humans, animals, and plants

Ciprian Amoroso (16 Sep 1901–30 Oct 1982)

Caribbean Icons in STI Vol 1

Professor Ciprian Amoroso gained international recognition for his seminal work on the structure and function of the placenta. His research was published in Marshall’s Physiology of Reproduction (1952) and built his reputation as a leading reproductive biologist.

Emmanuel Ciprian Amoroso was born in Woodbrook, Trinidad on September 16th 1901. He attended Newtown Boy’s RC School and St. Mary’s College. He participated in the arts and sports at school. At age 17 he left school due to failing eyesight, which persisted throughout his life. When it slightly improved, he studied on his own and taught at the College.

At age 21, he began studying medicine at the University College Dublin, Ireland. He sold newspapers and worked in the lab to cover costs and became a boxer. He won many academic prizes and tutored classmates. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1926 and a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery degree in 1929.

Amoroso spent two years in Germany studying at Albert-Ludwigs University, Freiburg and Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Cell Research, Berlin on a Travelling Studentship from the National University of Ireland. In 1934 he received his PhD from the University College, London.

He then joined the Royal Veterinary College and researched cell structure and function. He also studied the early growth and development of living organisms. Despite racial prejudice and jealousy, he excelled and his career blossomed. The College focused on horse diseases but slowly extended its research to domestic and exotic animals through his work.

Amoroso studied the nervous and circulatory systems, organ development, respiration and reproduction in various animals. He also investigated what prevents blood rushing to the head of animals with long necks (like the giraffe) as they lower their heads to drink water.

He spoke six languages and was an excellent educator who made an art of lecturing. He held the post of Chair of Veterinary Physiology at the College from 1947 until his retirement in 1968. It is said that he led the finest department of veterinary physiology in England and was conferred the title of Professor Emeritus.

He was the only West Indian elected to the Fellowship of the Royal Society of England and he received several honorary doctorates. He was named Commander of the Order of the British Empire and cherished the Trinity Cross, awarded by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago. Well into retirement, he continued research and published his last paper at age 80. He died in 1982.