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|Oral History: Interview with
Dr. Flaminio Fidanza
Dr. Fidanza discusses the origins of the Seven Countries Study, including his work with Naples firemen and other populations and his early collaborations with Ancel Keys. The interview gives a good picture of the people involved early on. The timing of early meetings and studies is also clarified. This document also contains comments and anecdotes of Seven Countries fieldwork shared at the Zutphen conference by Fidanza, Daan Kromhout, Henry Blackburn and George Lamm. (Suzanne Fisher)
Keywords: Naples. Seven Countries origins. After-Dinner Stories from field work.
First Naples Meeting
The meeting was at the Institute of Physiology. It was a private meeting arranged by Professor Keys during his sabbatical year when he was inviting all the people that I listed. It was not under the official auspices of FAO or WHO or any others. The first meeting of Keys and Bergami was in 1951 in London and they told that they were speaking together at a WHO meeting about food deficiencies. Keys and Bergami were very interested in these issues that we were dealing with at the time in nutrition in Italy.
Ancel Keys kept insisting that there’s a problem of overfeeding and coronary disease. And Bergami says, “Well, we don’t have it in Naples.” So Ancel was convinced to come to Naples during his sabbatical year with Hugh Sinclair where he felt that he was wasting his time. Sinclair was a very nice fellow, but not very conclusive. He liked good food and good wine, but that was it. (2)
Altogether I spent about two years in Minneapolis between ’53, ’54, and ’60. It was very good for me. It was very good for my career because it opened my mind from an Italian mentality to a more scientific mentality. And I’m very grateful to Ancel for that. Then I became very much involved with Ancel. We were doing very much business. (7) (Henry Blackburn)
Full transcripts of interviews may be made available to those engaged with original materials for scholarly studies by contacting Henry Blackburn at the CVD History Archive of the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. email@example.com.