The meeting “Orfila i la seva època” (Orfila and his times) will be held in Maó (Minorca) on the 19th-20th March 2004. It aims to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the death of Mateu J. Bonaventura Orfila (1787- 1853), a very relevant toxicologist and chemist, and the dean of the Faculty of Medicine of Paris from 1830 onwards. Born at Maó, he studied medicine at the University of Valencia and chemistry in Barcelona, to later follow his studies in Paris. Under the protection of the chemists Vauquelin and Thenard, Orfila became a private lecturer on chemistry in the French capital. In 1819 he was appointed professor of legal medicine, and four years later he succeeded Vauquelin as professor of chemistry at the Paris Faculty of Medicine. In 1830 he was nominated dean of that faculty, a powerful and influent position inside French medical community. He died, after a short illness, in Paris on the 12th of March 1853.

Orfila’s chief publications are Traité des poisons, or Toxicologie générale (1813); Eléments de chimie medicale (1817); Leçons de médécine legale (1823); Traité des exhumations juridiques (1830); and Recherches sur l’empoisonnement par l’acide arsenieux (1841). He also wrote many valuable papers, chiefly on subjects connected with legal medicine.

Starting from Orfila’s work, the meeting aims to build a broader and more ambitious collective enterprise on the intersections between chemistry and medicine during the first half of nineteenth century. For that purpose, in a two days format, including some brief visit at relevant places in the island, the meeting will be divided in three parts: (a) Orfila and his times; (b) Medical chemistry (c). Chemistry, Legal Medicine and Toxicology. The meeting web page ( offers more information about the conferences. The meeting first circular can be read at Best wishes, José R. Bertomeu, On behalf of the organizing committee.