Callerio Foundation

The Founders

Prof. Carlo Callerio, Sir Alexander Fleming, Dr. D.Gottlieb
Sir Alexander Fleming and Dr. Gottlieb congratulate Prof. Callerio
who first introduced the use of lysozyme in the medical practice.


Carlo Callerio was born in Albonese, near Pavia, on April the 3rd, 1901.
The fourth of seven children of a chemist, he belonged to a wealthy family of landowners. He graduated in medicine with first class honours at the University of Pavia, and received his MD at the University of Padova. In the course of his career he became, among the rest, the assistant of prof. Emilio Veratti, a pupil of the Nobel prize Golgi. In the first thirties he was often at the reputed Pasteur Institute of Paris and the Hygiene Institute of Berlin.

In 1933 he was forced to leave the university career for having refused to join the fascist party. As a result in the period 1933-1947 he turned his skills as a physician and researcher to the pharmaceutical industry, continuing with his research with the meager means available. Since 1936 his private life and his fondness of research were shared with his spouse, Dirce Babudieri, a triestine woman, the sister of prof. Brenno - a worldwide reputed microbiologist as well as one of the most passionate supporters of the need for a Medicine faculty within Trieste University.

In 1947 together with a chemist, Dr. Ferrari, he founded in Milan the SPA (Società Prodotti Antibiotici - Company for Antibiotic Products), of which he became the scientific director. After having patented the pharmaceutical use of an enzyme discovered by Sir Alexander Fleming, the lysozyme, the Company attained a considerable importance and financial weight, a position that it still retains.

In 1963 prof. Callerio left the SPA of Milan and, in full agreement with his wife, moved to Trieste with the aim of starting a small laboratory in order to continue on his own the research the two of them were so fond of. They located a suitable site on the side of Monte Fiascone, right above the Castelletto (an ancient villa in the shape of a small castle) belonging to the University.

As he got acquainted with the triestine scientific world, he became (at the age of 63) a voluntary assistant at the Biochemistry Institute, directed by prof. De Bernard, then located in an apartment within a building in via del Lazzaretto Vecchio.

In the mid-sixties Trieste applied for the Medicine Faculty its University was still lacking. While the first medical students were already being accepted, the University Chancellor Origone received a letter from the Ministry for the Public Education warning him not to begin the lessons in lack of suitable room. Prof. Callerio, once made aware of such a problem, not only called personally and directly the Minister in order to clear up the real reasons for such an unexpected stop (maybe some pressures aimed at having that Faculty assigned to another University?), but also decided to build at his own expenses the present Foundation carrying his name and his wife's, and to have restored two nearby cottages that - with the exception of two small rooms - would be hired out to the University for a token price, thus allowing to overcome such a preposterous bureaucratic stalemate.

In the following he kept working unceasingly at the Foundation as a researcher and as the Director, and in tight cooperation with the University, providing his contribution as a physician and scientist until his last moments.

He died on July the 30th, 1999, leaving behind a deep, genuine respect for his value both as a scientist and as a man, and this Foundation meant to worthily pursue his goals.

Mrs. Dirce, who kept working actively at the Foundation until a few years ago, died on September 1st, 2002. According to her will her ashes, as those of Prof. Callerio, were buried in a niche in the Foundation garden wall.