Map of Mesa – Where is Mesa? – Mesa Map for Tourist

Rita Levi-Montalcini (1909-2012) grew up in Turin (a two-hour drive from Bergamo). While we never met, my early background in brain pathology (she was a developmental neurobiologist) and the fact that she was a prominent public advocate for science (and supporter of BergamoScienza) meant that I was well aware of her. Map of Mesa Levi-Montalcini was a co-recipient (with Vanderbilt University’s Stanley Cohen) of the 1986 Nobel Prize for Medicine, and was also appointed by the president of Italy as Senator for Life (from 2001) in the upper house of the national Parlamento della Republica Italiana.

Map of Mesa – Where is Mesa? – Mesa Map for Tourist Photo Gallery

No doubt Levi-Montalcini spoke out strongly for the value of looking at public policy through the prism of actual evidence, though, as with any scientist who deals directly with politicians, there must have been a high level of mutual incomprehension. Even so, given that many of the profound changes in our world are driven by science and technology, along with the ethical challenges that new knowledge raises for both policy and the law, finding some mechanism for getting at least a small measure of scientific understanding into politics does seem like a reasonable idea. At least until recently, Where is Mesa? appointed leading scientists (including Sydney Boys High School/University of Sydney-educated Bob May and Geelong Grammar/University of Melbourne-trained Alec Broers) to the House of Lords. Few professional scientists will take up the challenge of seeking elected office, though Germany’s Angela Merkel (a physics PhD) is an exception. There were also three PhD physicists, Rush Holt, Bill Foster and Vernon Ehlers, in the 110th (2007-09) US Congress.

Qualifying first as an MD, Levi-Montalcini was dismissed from her assistant professorship in anatomy at the University of Turin when Benito Mussolini’s National Fascist Party passed a 1938 law banning all Jews from academic appointments. Having some family resources, and maybe as a result of good luck and a move from Turin to Florence, she and her twin sister Paola (a well-known artist) avoided the fate of being transported to Auschwitz. Fellow Turin scientist and author, the industrial chemist Primo Levi, did not, and he describes in If This is a Man how he survived that ordeal due to his technology skills. Continuing to do investigative work in a laboratory set up in her bedroom, Levi-Montalcini spent much of the Second World War focused on the factors determining nerve growth in chick embryos – even in wartime, it was possible to get hold of fertilised hen’s eggs!

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