The Nerve of Him!

Camillo Golgi, an Italian physician famed for his microscopic studies of the nervous system, was born on this day in 1843. When he was 30, Golgi invented a technique for staining cells that allowed him to view neurons in fine detail. He discovered the synaptic gap between neurons and identified a cell type, later called Golgi cells, that connects many neurons together. Far ahead of his time, Golgi postulated two types of nerve cells--motor cells and sensory cells--and speculated that axons transmit nerve impulses.

Golgi also discovered a major cellular organelle, known as Golgi bodies, the Golgi apparatus, or the Golgi complex. These stacks of flattened cavities help cells to secrete materials in globs called vesicles. For his work on the nervous system, Golgi received a share of the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1906.

[Source: Roy Porter, Ed., The Biographical Dictionary of Scientists (Oxford University Press, ed. 2, 1994).]