The Istituto Ospedaliero Regina Elena has been one of the most important and prestigious hospitals in Rome (Viale Regina Elena 291).
Front view in 1933
View of the entire building
The name of the hospital is a tribute to Queen Elena because of her extraordinary humanity which she demonstrated taking care of the sick people most in need as well as of her family members.
The new institution was legally established by the Royal Decree N.1619, approved by King Vittorio Emanuele III on July the 26th 1926. Originally, the name was Regio Istituto Fisioterapico of Santa Maria and San Gallicano. Actually, the building was completed in 1933 and inaugurated on April the 21st of the same year in its original location in Viale Regina Elena 291. The first Director of the Institute Regina Elena was the then President of the "Italian League in the Fight against Cancer" Senator Raffaele Bastianelli .1
In 1926, the General Directorate of Public Health obtained from the Ministry of the Interior to set up a section specifically equipped for the treatment of skin problems caused by cancer at the hospital San Gallicano. This new ward was directly connected to the public Physical Therapy Project, born two years before. In the meanwhile, there was an increasing concern for a disease which was cancer. As a matter of fact, there was a growing interest in the application of a physical therapy to treat the consequences of bone, brest and brain cancer. This brought to the foundation of a department entirely dedicated to the treatment of cancer in all its forms, not just skin related ones. At this point, considering that the San Gallicano could not anymore satisfy the new requirements, the idea of the Instituto Regina Elena began to take shape.
This facility will be realized in 1933 thanks to the goodwill of the then Prime Minister Benito Mussolini. As a matter of fact, the idea of building this new hospital was first suggested during a meeting between Mussolini, Senator Pietro Baccelli and some professors (including Bastianelli). This laid the foundations for the future institution which, in fact, would begin its fight against cancer on the 1st of January 1934.2
First floor plan
The hospital, as the plan clearly shows, was very well organised. It was built on four floors and each of them was accurately divided in three or four different wards. For example, general surgery, urology, otolaryngology and radiology were located on the first floor. From this very well planned initial structure we are able to understand why this hospital became immediately the fundamental cornerstone for the fight of cancer in Rome.
Anatomic pathology department: dissection room
The first year was already particularly intense, although it was just a year of planning. The original function of the institution (which will remain over the years) was the investigation of a new and more effective treatment of cancer, an incredibly aggressive and widespread disease. That is the reason why the original location already offered a large number of laboratories next to the clinical departments. In 1876, Guido Baccelli himself described one of the first cases of cancer of the spleen, which became subject of investigation and research for the Hospital Regina Elena.3
Room of technical assistance
Cabin for artificial tissue colture
In 1968 the ancient hospital Regina Elena became part of a new structure called Istituti Fisioterapici Ospedalieri (IFO), which deals with skin diseases, physiotherapeutic treatments and the research of new methods to treat cancer.
A document created in 2006 in order to celebrate the eighty years from the foundation of IFO
Nowadays, the original location of the Hospital Regina Elena has been partially restored and houses the laboratories of Molecular Medicine of La Sapienza University and the Institute Pasteur-Fondazione Cenci-Bolognetti. These two centres for research are dedicated to the study of new approaches to the treatment of cancer.4
The only remaining inscription in the historic building which remembers the old function of this structure
Front view in 2016
View of the bridge which connect the restored part of the historic building to its unrestored part
- Photos and main text by Anna Scarabosio moc.liamg|annaoisobaracs#| and Giulia Avola ti.oiligriv|alovaailuig#| (January 2016)
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- AAVV, I natali degli Istituti Fisioterapici Ospitalieri. 80 anni di ricerca e cura a Roma, Roma 2006
- S. Filippi, "Don Verzè: Così mi hanno costretto a vendere il San Raffaele di Roma", «Il Giornale» 25 agosto 2004, pp. 1-5
- Istituto Regina Elena, Istituto Regina Elena per lo studio e la cura dei tumori, G.Lolli, Roma 1936
- Istituto Regina Elena, Istituto Regina Elena per lo studio e la cura dei tumori, Vallardi, Milano 1933
- Cristina Siccardi, "Elena. La regina mai dimenticata", Paoline Editoriale Libri, Milano 1996
- Vittorio Emanuele III di Savoia, Messaggio di S.A.R. il principe Vittorio Emanuele di Savoia, Ginevra 1 marzo 2002
- Anna Maria Fioretti, Viaggio nel mondo accademico e della ricerca del territorio italiano
- Official site of IFO