10 Years since her passing: Reflections on the Spiritual and Scientific Legacy of Nobel Laureate Rita Levi-Montalcini
On May 31st, a seminar titled “Rita Levi-Montalcini (1909-2012): 10 Years after Her Passing” was held at the MAGI headquarters in San Felice del Benaco (Villa Bertelli-Maestrini). This prestigious event brought together esteemed professors and researchers who had the privilege of directly collaborating with Nobel laureate Rita Levi-Montalcini herself. Among the participants was also Dr. Matteo Bertelli, the President of MAGISNAT, who had a decade-long collaboration with Professor Levi-Montalcini in relation to the Foundation for Africa.
Professor Levi-Montalcini, the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1986 for the discovery of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), was an immensely important figure in Italian and global science. Her research revolutionized our understanding of the nervous system and had a significant impact in the field of neuroscience. Her work paved the way for new treatments for a range of neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis.
However, Professor Levi-Montalcini’s contributions to science were not limited to this alone. She was also a passionate advocate for scientific education and a fervent opponent of all forms of discrimination. Professor Levi-Montalcini saw science as a way to contribute to society and promote the betterment of humanity, believing that using her talents and abilities to help others was a moral obligation.
The seminar was introduced by Dr. Francesco Brigo from the Department of Neurology at the Hospital of Merano (SABES-ASDAA) and Dr. Lorenzo Lorusso from A.S.ST. Lecco, Neurology, Merate Hospital. Subsequently, Professor Giovanna Visintini from the Toscolano Study Center (CST) gave a presentation titled “Fabio Visintini’s Memories of Rita Levi-Montalcini,” in which she spoke about the work her father had done with Professor Levi-Montalcini. She also mentioned their project to preserve and restore the villa of Senator Giuseppe Zanardelli, a figure of great relevance in the Italian Risorgimento. She emphasized the importance of preserving the history and cultural heritage of that period, even though a comprehensive historical revision has not yet been conducted.
Dr. Matteo Bertelli, the President of the MAGI group, shared his experiences with Professor Levi-Montalcini and the foundation of MAGI. He recounted how Rita Levi-Montalcini had been a guest at their facility on multiple occasions. He also emphasized their shared commitment to the progress of developing countries, research on natural and off-patent molecules, and the scientific education of graduates from developing countries. The discoveries of Professor Montalcini, such as PEA, NGF, and EGF, have not only opened new avenues for research in neurodegenerative diseases but have also laid the scientific foundations for further studies. In fact, Dr. Bertelli highlighted that the innovative discovery of the role of the natural molecule NGF in neuroregeneration has laid the groundwork for studying self-healing processes as a result of physical rehabilitation, which stimulates the release of neurotrophins. Dr. Bertelli explained that Professor Levi-Montalcini’s collaborators have further expanded these studies, laying the foundations for scientific exploration of the principles of natural medicine, wherein the release of NGF and other neurotrophins by the body can regenerate diseased tissues. These studies have inaugurated a new paradigm, exploring the biological and physiological bases of neuromotor rehabilitation processes, including therapies such as acupuncture and chiropractic.
Professor Pietro Calissano, co-founder of the European Brain Research Institute (EBRI Foundation) in Rome, gave a presentation titled “The Two Cultures of the Levi-Montalcini Sisters.” During his presentation, Prof. Calissano provided a historical-scientific profile of Professor Rita Levi-Montalcini and illustrated the progression of the experiments she conducted, which led to the discovery of NGF and, consequently, the Nobel Prize. Prof. Calissano represents the living memory of Professor Levi-Montalcini.
Rabbi Mykhaylo Kapustin, a representative of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Slovakia, addressed the interesting topic of “Judaism and Science.” He emphasized that there is no contradiction between Judaism and science regarding the Theory of Evolution, as they pose different questions. Judaism asks “why,” while science seeks to understand “how.” Kapustin argued that Judaism and science are simply distinct paths to understanding the world.
Professor Paolo Mazzarello from the Department of Nervous System and Behavior Sciences and President of the University of Pavia’s Museum System focused on “The Discovery of the Neuron by Golgi and Cajal.” He delved into the historical context surrounding the innovative work of these two scientists.
Subsequently, Professor Marco Piccolino from the Neuroscience Center at the University of Ferrara presented “Rita Levi-Montalcini, Fabio Visintini, and Giuseppe Levi: The Beginning of the Long Research Process on Nerve Growth Factor.” Professor Piccolino shed light on the collaborative research efforts of these individuals and their significant contribution to the scientific field.
Dr. Francesca Malerba, the head of the NGF LAB Facility at the EBRI Foundation – Rita Levi-Montalcini in Rome, discussed the “Clinical Applications of Nerve Growth Factor.” Her presentation illustrated the practical implications of Professor Levi-Montalcini’s discoveries and their potential impact on medical treatments.
The day before the congress, researchers from the MAGI Group, together with Rabbi Mykhaylo Kapustin, had the opportunity to take a panoramic tour of the magnificent scenery of Lake Garda, reaching the peaks of Mount Baldo at an altitude of about 1,700 meters.
The seminar at the MAGI headquarters in San Felice del Benaco was a profound commemoration of the life and legacy of Professor Rita Levi-Montalcini. It brought together distinguished individuals from various scientific disciplines to honor her extraordinary achievements and reflect on her lasting influence in both the spiritual and scientific realms. Ten years after her passing, the work of Professor Levi-Montalcini continues to inspire and guide future generations of scientists, promoting a spirit of curiosity, compassion, and dedication to the pursuit of knowledge for the betterment of humanity.
Company Name: MAGISNAT
Contact Person: Matteo Bertelli MD, PhD
Address:Atlanta Tech Park 107 Technology Parkway Suite 801
City: PEACHTREE CORNERS
State: GA 30092
Country: United States