One century after Marian Lydia Shorey, a fleeting star at the inception of the long path to the discovery of Nerve Growth Factor

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Marco Piccolino
Isabel Murray


Marian Lydia Shorey, neuroembryology,, Nerve-Growth-Factor, Rita Levi-Montalcini, Viktor Hamburger, Giuseppe Levi


This article, the third of a series dedicated to Rita Levi-Montalcini’s and her discovery of the Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), deals with an almost unknown American scientist, Marian Lydia Shorey. In 1909, in her dissertation thesis at the University of Chicago, Shorey reported the results of experiments made on the chick embryo that set the stage for further research leading to the discovery in the 1950s of NGF. Thereafter, this discovery path was marked first by the work first of Viktor Hamburger, afterwards by Rita Levi-Montalcini and Giuseppe Levi, and eventually by the research of Levi-Montalcini and Stanley Cohen in Hamburger’s lab in St. Louis. As we will see, despite the importance of Shorey’s results, she disappeared from the annals of science largely stemming from the personal and social events of a sad life concluded tragically just one century ago, in 1922.


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