The science of occupational medicine emerged during the Seventeenth Century in Italy with the work of Bernardino Ramazzini. Born in Carpi, a small town in the province of Modena on October 4th, 1633, Bernardino Ramazzini attended the University of Parma where he became a Doctor of Philosophy and Medicine in 1659. In 1682, he was designated the Chair of Medicine in the reopened University of Modena, where he taught for 18 years until 1700. In that year he accepted the Chair of Practical Medicine at the University of Padua.

In 1700, Dr. Ramazzini published the first edition of his most famous book, the “De Morbis Artificum Diatriba” (A Treatise on the Diseases of Workers), the first comprehensive work on occupational diseases. This volume described in detail the diseases of workers in 40 different occupations. Still today, after nearly 300 years, Ramazzini's descriptions of the hazards of work are lucid and instructive. Ramazzini died in 1714, at the age of 81 and is considered the father of occupational medicine. He anticipated modern methods of following changes in health and detecting unusual events. Through personal example, he demonstrated the importance of talking directly with workers and of visiting workplaces to investigate the working environment in order to improve it. He focused on the need for providing workers with adequate information about health hazards and he suggested practical measures to protect workers from illness and injury.

Three hundred years later, an international community of scholars formed an independent academy in honor of the father of occupational medicine, the Collegium Ramazzini.