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Camillo Golgi

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Title: Camillo Golgi  
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Camillo Golgi

Camillo Golgi
Born (1843-07-07)7 July 1843
Corteno, Kingdom of Lombardy–Venetia, Austrian Empire
Died 21 January 1926(1926-01-21) (aged 82)
Pavia, Italy
Citizenship Austrian Empire, Italian
Nationality Italian
Fields Neuroscience
Institutions University of Pavia
Notable awards Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1906)

Camillo Golgi (Italian: ; 7 July 1843 – 21 January 1926) was an Golgi tendon reflex.


Camillo Golgi was born in July 1843 in the village of Corteno, in the province of Brescia (Lombardy), then part of the Austrian Empire. The village is now named Corteno Golgi in his honour. His father was a physician and district medical officer. Golgi studied at the University of Pavia, where he worked in the experimental pathology laboratory under Giulio Bizzozero, who elucidated the properties of bone marrow. He graduated in 1865. He spent much of his career studying the central nervous system. Tissue staining techniques in the later half of the 19th century were inadequate for studying nervous tissue. While working as chief medical officer in a psychiatric hospital, he experimented with metal impregnation of nervous tissue, using mainly silver (silver staining). He discovered a method of staining nervous tissue that would stain a limited number of cells at random, in their entirety. This enabled him to view the paths of nerve cells in the brain for the first time. He called his discovery the "black reaction" (in Italian, reazione nera), which later received his name (Golgi's method or Golgi stain). The reason for the random staining is still not understood.

The black reaction consisted in fixing silver chromate particles to the neurilemma (the neuron membrane) by reacting silver nitrate with potassium dichromate. This resulted in a stark black deposit on the soma as well as on the axon and all dendrites, providing an exceedingly clear and well-contrasted picture of neuron against a yellow background. The ability to visualize separate neurons led to the eventual acceptance of the neuron doctrine.[1] However, Golgi himself was led to a conviction that nervous system is a single network, not of separate cells; the notion called "reticular theory." He supported this discredited theory even in his Nobel lecture.[2][3][4]

In addition to this discovery, Golgi discovered a [5] Using his staining technique, Golgi identified the intracellular reticular apparatus in 1898 which bears his name, the Golgi apparatus.

In renal physiology Golgi is renowned for being the first to show that the distal tubulus of the nephron returns to its originating glomerulus, a finding that he published in 1889 ("Annotazioni intorno all'Istologia dei reni dell'uomo e di altri mammifieri e sull'istogenesi dei canalicoli oriniferi". Rendiconti R. Acad. Lincei 5: 545–557, 1889).

Golgi, together with Santiago Ramón y Cajal, received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1906 for his studies of the structure of the nervous system. In 1900 he was named senator by King Umberto I.[6]

Golgi died in Pavia, Italy, on 21 January 1926.

Drawing by Camillo Golgi of a hippocampus stained with the silver nitrate method.

Monuments in Pavia

In Pavia several landmarks stand as Golgi’s memory.

  • A marble statue, in a yard of the old buildings of the University of Pavia, at N.65 of the central “Strada Nuova”. On the basement, there is the following inscription in Italian language: "Camillo Golgi / patologo sommo / della scienza istologica / antesignano e maestro / la segreta struttura / del tessuto nervoso / con intenta vigilia / sorprese e descrisse / qui operò / qui vive / guida e luce ai venturi / MDCCCXLIII – MCMXXVI" (Camillo Golgi / outstanding pathologist / of histological science / precursor and master / the secret structure / of the nervous tissue / with strenuous effort / discovered and described / here he worked / here he lives / here he guides and enlightens future scholars / 1843 – 1926).
  • "Golgi’s home", also in Strada Nuova, at N.77, a few hundreds meters away from the University, just in front to the historical “Teatro Fraschini”. It is the home in which Golgi spent the most of his family life, with his wife Lina.
  • Golgi’s tomb is in the Monumental Cemetery of Pavia (viale San Giovannino), along the central lane, just before the big monument to the fallen of the First World War. It is a very simple granite grave, with a bronze medallion representing the scientist’s profile. Near Golgi’s tomb, apart from his wife, two other important Italian medical scientists are buried: Bartolomeo Panizza and Adelchi Negri.


See also


  1. ^ Rockland, Kathleen S. (1999) The MIT Encyclopedia of the Cognitive Sciences. MIT Press. ISBN 0262731444. p. 353
  2. ^ Marina Bentivoglio (20 April 1998). "Life and Discoveries of Camillo Golgi". Nobel Media. Retrieved 23 August 2013. 
  3. ^ Cimino G (1999). "Reticular theory versus neuron theory in the work of Camillo Golgi". Physis Riv Int Stor Sci 36 (2): 431–472.  
  4. ^ Raviola E, Mazzarello P (2011). "The diffuse nervous network of Camillo Golgi: facts and fiction". Brain Res Rev 66 (1–2): 75–82.  
  5. ^ Golgi C. (1889). "Sul ciclo evolutivo dei parassiti malarici nella febbre terzana : diagnosi differenziale tra i parassiti endoglobulari malarici della terzana e quelli della quartana" [On the cycle of development of malarial parasites in tertian fever: differential diagnosis between the intracellular parasites of tertian and quartant fever]. Archivio per le Scienza Mediche 13: 173-196. 
  6. ^ GOLGI Camillo. Italian senate website

Further reading

External links

  • Life and Discoveries of Camillo Golgi
  • The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1906
  • Some places and memories related to Camillo Golgi
  • The museum in Corteno, now called Corteno Golgi, dedicated to Golgi. Includes a gallery of images of his birthplace.
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