Mario Battigelli, former public health faculty member, has died

October 2, 2019

Dr. Mario Battigelli

Dr. Mario Battigelli

Mario C. Battigelli, MD, a former faculty member of the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering (ESE) at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, died at home, surrounded by family, on Friday, September 27. He was 91 years old. He is survived by his wife, Giovanna Battigelli, and their four children, Anna Battigelli, Lisa B. Nurme, David Battigelli and John Battigelli, and by grandchildren Annalise Nurme, John David Nurme, Mario Battigelli II and Lorenzo Battigelli.

Battigelli was born in Florence, Italy, and baptized in the Battistero di San Giovanni. He was one of five children and the only son of Enrico and Elena Battigelli. He received a medical degree in 1951 from the University of Florence. Following a fellowship at the Clinica del Lavoro at the University of Milan, he earned a master’s degree in public health from the University of Pittsburgh in 1957.

In 1965, he accepted a joint faculty appointment at the UNC Schools of Public Health and Medicine. His career was characterized by a devotion to public health — particularly the environmental causes of occupational lung diseases. He worked all his life to defend and protect the sacredness of human labor, highlighting its physical, medical, ethical, psychological and spiritual dignity.

“Mario was a faculty member in ESE when I arrived in 1966,” shared Don Francisco, PhD,  professor emeritus of environmental sciences and engineering at the Gillings School. “He was with the Industrial Hygiene Program Area. He also provided medical care and advice to many of our students. He was a very special person, and his son, David, also holds a doctoral degree from our department.”

Battigelli retired to Chapel Hill and read widely, often with others, returning regularly to the work of Dante. In retirement, he also cared for the elderly in Chapel Hill, serving on the Orange County Nursing Home Advisory Committee. He was an active member of UNC’s Newman Catholic Community.

He will be remembered for his intellectual curiosity, compassion, uncompromising integrity, encyclopedic reading, keen intellect, and skilled care as a clinician and researcher. He was a devoted and much-loved husband, father and grandfather.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated Friday, October 4, at 11 a.m., at the Newman Catholic Student Center in Chapel Hill.

Contact the Gillings School of Global Public Health communications team at

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