Cotugno (1736-1822) was the first to describe the presence of albumin in the urine of a patient with nephrotic syndrome, though he did not place much emphasis on this discovery, which is buried in his many other observations in anatomy, physiology, medical pathology and therapy. Cotugno was a well-known scholar of his time, though he came from a humble background and was largely self-taught. He gained a medical degree from the Salerno School of Medicine at the age of 20 years. He was a prolific researcher and writer, conscientious practitioner of medicine, and a collector of books and antiquities. Much of his library was lost after his death or burned by his wife for unknown reasons.

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