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“Fat” Chemist

Photo Portrait of Dr. Camillo Artom

Dr. Camillo Artom, known as the "fat" chemist for his work with lipids, was born in Asti, Italy on June 6, 1893 and died in Winston-Salem on February 3, 1970 at the age of 76.

He was Jewish. After studying and working in Europe, he knew in 1938 when he was not allowed to attend a biochemists conference in Switzerland that it was time to leave Italy. Dr. Coy C. Carpenter, dean of Bowman Gray School of Medicine, secured a job for him as chairman of the Biochemistry
Department. By 1939, Dr. Artom and his wife, Bianca, had moved to
Winston-Salem to live on his meager salary of $200 per month.

Dr. Artom's biochemistry research, specifically lipid metabolism, is still famous today. In the photo from a 1967 Journal-Sentinel article, he is shown doing research at the age of 74. Lipid metabolism deals with how the body absorbs fats, how the liver processes fats, and how fats collect in the walls of the arteries. Photo of Dr. Camillo Artom in the laboratoryArtom's explanation of how fats are digested is still accepted today. During the 1960s, Artom used pigeons in his study on atherosclerosis. The hardening of the arteries was considered the number one killer in the United States and Europe in the 1960s. For this reason, Artom's work was considered important. 

He was head of the Biochemistry Department from 1939 to 1963 and then emeritus professor until his death in 1970. In 1963 the graduating class of the Bowman Gray School of Medicine dedicated its yearbook, The Gray and White Matter to Dr. Artom and described him as "an internationally known scientist (who) has engendered our awe and admiration."  

These photos are housed in the Dorothy Carpenter Medical Archives along with many other historical materials.

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