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J Hist Neurosci. 2006 Dec;15(4):358-68.

Giuseppe Levi: mentor of three Nobel laureates.

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Department of Morphological and Biomedical Sciences, University of Verona, Verona, Italy.


Giuseppe Levi (1872-1965), Professor of Anatomy at the University of Turin, had broad research interests and was a pioneer of in vitro studies on cultured cells. He provided a number of contributions on the nervous system, especially on the plasticity of sensory ganglion cells. An influential and magnetic teacher and mentor, he gathered around him a large group of brilliant students. He has the peculiar primate to count among his students three Nobel laureates in Physiology or Medicine: Salvador Luria, Renato Dulbecco, and Rita Levi-Montalcini. For all three of them, the internship in Levi's laboratory provided an exceptional initial stimulus. They remained in close contact with each other and with Levi even after the 1940s when they migrated to the United States for political and racial reasons, engaging in different fields of research. Rita Levi-Montalcini, who was awarded the Nobel Prize (1986) for the discovery of Nerve Growth Factor, was stimulated and assisted in her work by Giuseppe Levi during the difficult years of World War II. With Giuseppe Levi, she pursued early studies on the relationships between neural centers and their peripheral target of innervation, and she has witnessed in her writings the enthusiasm of her mentor.

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