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From alchemy to personalised medicine: the journey of laboratory medicine


This review summarises the long period in which man has approached nature to understand its powers, and has tried to control it through physical and chemical, and also magical, practices. From the attempt to manage nature to the development of primordial drugs and medical practices and later to achieve modern biomedical science, laboratory practices always played a pivotal role. Over the years and centuries, the laboratory has acquired more and more importance in the improvement of health.

In addition to the well-known importance of laboratory medicine in the early diagnosis and appropriateness, the discoveries of the last 50 years have also given the Laboratory a decisive role in regenerative and personalised medicine.

This paper examines the evolution of the laboratory and is not meant to be a treatise on the history of medicine. The goal is to highlight the moments of the transition from magic and alchemy to laboratory science.


Roberto Verna is President of the World Association of Societies of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and President of the Academy for Health and Clinical Research.

  • Chemistry, Clinical

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