Camillo Golgi

Camillo Golgi, 1843-1926. Italian physician, pathologist and Nobel Prize winner (1906). Amongst other discoveries, he is most remembered for his discovery of the Golgi complex, the cellular granular organelle named after him.

Camillo Golgi was born in Corteno, Italy. The son of a physician, he studied medicine in Pavia. After graduating in 1865 he continued to work in Pavia at the Hospital of St. Matteo. In 1872 he became Chief Medical Officer at the Hospital for the Incurables in Abbiategrasso. It is believed that in the seclusion of this hospital, he first started his investigations into the nervous system. With only rudimentary facilities at his disposal, Golgi devised the silver nitrate method of staining nerve tissue (1873). This stain enabled him to demonstrate the existence of a nerve cell, which came to be known as the Golgi cell, possessing many dendrites and serving to connect several other nerve cells. After his arrival at the University of Pavia as Extraordinary Professor of Histology (1875), Golgi found and described the point at which sensory nerve fibres end in rich branchings encapsulated within a tendon. He also discovered the presence in nerve cells of an irregular network of fibrils, vesicles, and granules, now known as the Golgi complex or apparatus. Golgi was appointed to the Chair of General Pathology in 1881. He never practiced medicine, but directed the Department of General Pathology at St. Matteo Hospital. He founded and directed the Istituto Sieroterapico- Vaccinogeno of the Province of Pavia, was Rector of Pavia University and was made a Senator of the Kingdom of Italy.

Golgi was extremely modest and reticent about his work, especially the silver staining technique, which he continued to modify and improve all through his life. Golgi received the highest honours and awards and shared the Nobel Prize in 1906. The Historical Museum at the University of Pavia dedicated a hall to Golgi, where more than 80 certificates of honorary degrees, diplomas and awards are exhibited. Camillo Golgi died in Pavia.

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