Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Golgi was born in Corteno, Italy. His father was a physician and district medical officer. Golgi studied medicine at 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 latter half of the nineteenth 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. He discovered a method of staining nervous tissue which 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. It is now known universally as the Golgi stain. The reason for the eclectic, 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 bichromate. 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.
In addition to this discovery, Golgi discovered a tendon sensory organ that bears his name. He studied the life cycle of Plasmodium falciparum and related the timing of fevers seen in malaria with the life cycle of this organism. Using his staining technique, Golgi identified the 'internal reticular apparatus' which bears his name, the Golgi apparatus.
Image from The National Library of Medicine
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