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Matteo Adinolfi: immunologist focusing on prenatal diagnosis of gene disorders

BMJ 2020; 370 doi: (Published 21 August 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m3309
  1. Rebecca Wallersteiner
  1. London, UK
  1. wallersteiner{at}

Matteo Adinolfi was born in 1928 in Asmara, Eritrea, to Attilio, a bank manager, and his wife, Maria (née Sellitti), who had fled there from Italy to escape fascism. His father had been able to transfer to the bank’s Eritrean branch. Adinolfi remembered attending a local school with a handful of other Italian children and trips to the seaside. In his teens, he developed a lifelong passion for Russian novels. On a visit back to Naples in 1943, the family was trapped by the advancing war and unable to return to Africa. Attilio joined the navy. Matteo, his mother, and two sisters fled the bombing of Naples, taking shelter in the surrounding hillside. They fled from one hill to another, foraging for food, and finding shelter where they could. Matteo was half starved and severely ill with gastroenteritis; the experience motivated him to become a doctor.


Adinolfi read medicine at the University of Naples and worked there until 1962. In the same year, he moved to London and joined the haematology research unit at the Wright Fleming Institute, as well as practising at St Mary’s Hospital. In 1966 he was awarded his doctorate in immunology …

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