Giuseppe Levi and Rita Levi-Montalcini. The Long Way of a "Dynamic Biology", from Embriology to the Modern Neurosciences


  • Paolo Mazzarello Università degli studi di Pavia, Italy
  • Maria Carla Garbarino Università degli studi di Pavia, Italy



Giuseppe Levi, Rita Levi Montalcini , History of Neurosciences, Experimental Biology , Neuroembriology


A recent volume, edited by Marco Piccolino and entitled Rita Levi Montalcini e il suo Maestro, una grande avventura nelle neuroscienze alla scuola di Giuseppe Levi, is the stimulus for situating in a historical perspective the formidable achievements in the twentieth century neurosciences of Rita Levi-Montalcini. The volume points to the importance for Levi-Montalcini of the technical and theoretical background acquired during the period spent in the Turin Anatomical Institute directed by Giuseppe Levi, a prominent figure of the twentieth century biology. In opposition to a static conception of the morphological research, Levi promoted a dynamic and functional approach based on the modern technologies. This attitude, which had a long tradition in the Italian biomedical research, dating up to the epoch of Marcello Malpighi, was revived by Levi and by his master Giulio Chiarugi, and represented Rita’s atout in her path of discovery of the Nerve Growth Factor, one of the main breakthroughs in the history of the modern neurosciences.