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Dr. Rita Levi-Montalcini, Nobel Winner, Dies At 103

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the fare-thee-well dept.

Science 36

SternisheFan writes "Nobel winner Dr. Rita Levi-Montalcini, who discovered chemical tools that the body uses to direct cell growth and build nerves, has died. She was 103. From the article: 'Dr. Rita Levi-Montalcini, a Nobel Prize-winning neurologist who discovered critical chemical tools that the body uses to direct cell growth and build nerve networks, opening the way for the study of how those processes can go wrong in diseases like dementia and cancer, died on Sunday at her home in Rome. She was 103. Her death was announced by Mayor Gianni Alemanno of Rome. "I don't use these words easily, but her work revolutionized the study of neural development, from how we think about it to how we intervene," said Dr. Gerald D. Fishbach, a neuroscientist and professor emeritus at Columbia. Scientists had virtually no idea how embryo cells built a latticework of intricate connections to other cells when Dr. Levi-Montalcini began studying chicken embryos in the bedroom of her house in Turin, Italy, during World War II. After years of obsessive study, much of it at Washington University in St. Louis with Dr. Viktor Hamburger, she found a protein that, when released by cells, attracted nerve growth from nearby developing cells.'"

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NYTimes pay-walled... Alternate (5, Informative)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 2 years ago | (#42435923)

Re:NYTimes pay-walled... Alternate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42436049)

Worked fine for me. Did you lose ... err ... I mean, clear your cookies first?

Re:NYTimes pay-walled... Alternate (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 2 years ago | (#42436795)

Worked fine for me. Did you lose ... err ... I mean, clear your cookies first?

Just reading her bio makes me realize that at half her age, I have yet to discover a fungus betwen my toes. This was one strong woman, gotta' respect her life. Thanks for voting this in, Slashdot-ers.

Re:NYTimes pay-walled... Alternate (3, Informative)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 2 years ago | (#42436103)

Rita Levi-Montalcini, who has died aged 103, overcame racial and sexual prejudice to become a leading neurobiologist and one of the handful of women scientists to win a Nobel Prize.

Her triumph came in 1986, when she shared the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine with her student, the biochemist Stanley Cohen, for their contributions to the understanding of growth factors in human development.

By the 1950s, the pattern of cell growth and differentiation had long been established, and scientists knew that the addition of blood or organ extracts to cells in culture resulted in their successful growth. They did not know, however, the identity of the active substances, just as cancer researchers understood little of the unregulated growth of tumour cells.

In 1952, Rita Levi-Montalcini found that when tumours from mice were transplanted to chick embryos, they induced potent growth of the chick embryo nervous system . She concluded that the tumour released a nerve growth-promoting factor (NGF) which had a selective action on certain types of nerve cells.

Following this discovery, she began to measure the effect of NGF on cells in culture, and discovered that a sensory or sympathetic nerve cell reacted within 30 seconds of the addition of minute quantities of NGF. Just one billionth part of a gram of NGF per millilitre of culture medium exerted a potent growth-promoting effect.

In 1953 the biochemist Stanley Cohen joined her research group at Washington University, St Louis, and together they purified a nerve growth-promoting extract. Rita Levi-Montalcini’s discovery improved scientific understanding of the processes involved in certain physical malformations and diseases. It has led to improved therapeutic agents and could be central to eventual treatments for diseases such as multiple sclerosis or Alzheimer’s as well as psychiatric disorders such as depression or anorexia.

Rita Levi-Montalcini was born, with her twin sister Paola, in Turin on April 22 1909, the youngest of four children. Her father, Adamo Levi, was an electrical engineer and mathematician, and her mother, Adele Montalcini, a talented painter. Their elder brother, Gino, would become a prominent Italian architect and professor at the University of Turin.

Though the family was cultured, Rita’s father took a traditional view of a woman’s place and decided that his three daughters should not go to university. But Rita was convinced she could not be content with a merely domestic role and, at the age of 20, begged her father to be allowed to try for university. Eventually he relented and within eight months she had rectified her deficiencies in Latin, Greek and Mathematics, graduated from high school, and enrolled at the medical school in Turin, where she studied under the histologist Giuseppe Levi.

In 1936 she graduated with a summa cum laude degree in Medicine and Surgery, and began postgraduate work in neurology and psychiatry. But that year, Mussolini issued the Manifesto per la Difesa della Razza, signed by 10 Italian scientists, which called for laws barring academic and professional careers to non-Aryan citizens. She therefore left Italy for Belgium, where she worked as a guest of a neurological institute in Brussels. In 1940, on the eve of the German invasion of Belgium, she returned to the relative safety of Turin.

Realising it would not be possible to pursue her scientific interests openly, Rita Levi-Montalcini built a small research unit in her bedroom. By this time, inspired by a 1934 article by Viktor Hamburger reporting on the effects of limb amputation in chick embryos, she had become interested in the mechanisms controlling the development of the vertebrate nervous system. She had barely begun work when her former teacher, Giuseppe Levi, who had also escaped from Belgium, returned to Turin and joined her in her work.

Forced to leave Turin by the heavy Allied bombing of the city in 1941, she moved her laboratory to a cottage in Piemonte. But the invasion of Italy by the German Army in 1943 forced her to move again and she remained in hiding in Florence until the Allies liberated the city in August 1944. She was then taken on by the Allied armies as a volunteer physician and assigned to a refugee camp, where she had to treat cases of typhoid and other infectious diseases.

When the war ended she returned with her family to Turin and resumed her academic career at the University. In 1947 she received an invitation from Viktor Hamburger to join him at Washington University, St Louis, where he was a professor. She planned to remain in America for a year but, as a result of the success of her research, decided to postpone her return.

She continued her research on NGF for some 30 years. In 1956 she was appointed Associate Professor and in 1958 full Professor of Neurobiology at Washington University, a position she held until her retirement in 1977. In 1962 she established a research unit in Rome, and from then on, she divided her time between Italy and America. From 1969 to 1978 she was Director of the Institute of Cell Biology of the Italian National Council of Research.

After her retirement in 1979 she became an emeritus professor at the Institute, and from 1989 to 1995, by now well into her eighties, she worked at the Italian National Council of Research Institute of Neurobiology, testing new hypotheses on the action of NGF.

From 1993 to 1998 she was President of the Institute of the Italian Encyclopaedia. She was the author of numerous scientific publications, four bestsellers, and a short autobiography, In Praise of Imperfection. In 1992 she created, together with her twin sister, the Levi-Montalcini Foundation, in memory of their father, to assist young people in the difficult choices regarding their fields of study.

Rita Levi-Montalcini was a member of many scientific academies, including the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, the Pontifical Academy, the Accademia delle Scienze, the American National Academy of Sciences, and the Royal Society.

She was unmarried.

Rita Levi-Montalcini, born April 22 1909, died December 30 2012

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/9773327/Rita-Levi-Montalcini.html [telegraph.co.uk]

Re:NYTimes pay-walled... Alternate (2)

quangdog (1002624) | about 2 years ago | (#42436997)

I'm truly humbled when I compare the "problems" in my life with the monumental obstacles she overcame.

Rita, you left a truly wonderful mark on this world. May you rest in peace.

discrimination (0)

Moblaster (521614) | about 2 years ago | (#42435941)

I am wondering if I actually got the first post nine whole minutes after this stor was published. Is this discrimination against women on slashdot? Just wondering cause the half life of a new story before comments is usually about one minute.

Re:discrimination (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42436009)

I am wondering if I actually got the first post nine whole minutes after this stor was published. Is this discrimination against women on slashdot?


Re:discrimination (0)

samoanbiscuit (1273176) | about 2 years ago | (#42437549)

My guess is a lot of slashdotters, especially the MRA crowd, don't have much nice things to say about women in general. Their silence is actually a measure of respect, instead of discrimination (in their minds at least).

Re:discrimination (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42438791)

What did you add here? or is it j

Re:discrimination (1)

samoanbiscuit (1273176) | about 2 years ago | (#42439605)

Definitely j.

Re:discrimination (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 2 years ago | (#42438571)

Aahh, I belive I might have been the reason. You see, I submitted this 'story' if you will, and saw it when it was first posted. I began to post, then it took some minutes while I was searching out an alternate link. So, no, no discrimination was directed to your being female (how can sex be determined by your screen name, anyway?).

Hope that clears that up. And, btw, have a Happy New Year! SF

Dr Viktor Hamburger (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42435993)

Best name ever! I wish to god that was my name. I'd love to see the look on people's faces as they tried to decide whether I was yanking their chain or not.

Re:Dr Viktor Hamburger (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42436411)

His thesis advisor was none other than Dr. Frank-N-Furter

20% of nobel prize are jewish.. 0.2% of population (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42436117)


Does anyone know if this is going down over the last decades as asian-pacific/developing world get more prizes ?

Re:20% of nobel prize are jewish.. 0.2% of populat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42436447)

Are you suggesting some kind of jewish conspiracy, or just that apparently jews just seem to kick ass more often in things they attempt? Makes me wonder if i should convert....

Re:20% of nobel prize are jewish.. 0.2% of populat (3, Interesting)

oursland (1898514) | about 2 years ago | (#42438089)

There have been studies into this. Normally studies to determine whether one genetically similar group (race, ethnicity, etc) has a predisposition towards advantages in intelligence, athletics, etc. has been looked down upon and stifled. But as studies into hereditary illnesses progressed, it turns out that some illnesses bring advantages. For example, sickle cell anemia brings a resistance to malaria. Another example is Tay-Sachs, a debilitating neurological disorder that usually brings about childhood death and is more common amongst Ashkenazi Jewish persons, however carriers of a Tay Sachs gene without the disease have an average of a couple IQ points bump.

A couple IQ points is nothing tremendous, mind you. The average Tay-Sachs carrier is going to be just as average as everyone else, but on the high end of the normal curve, you'll find there will be an over-representation of Jews to the other ethnicities. This may explain in some part the effect you've seen. It should also be noted that there is a large many Jewish Nobel Prize Laureates and other persons of note who do not share the faith (Einstein, Feynman, Asimov, Edward Teller, etc), so conversion will only likely fill your mind with things that bring no value towards life successes.

Here's a Wikipedia article on it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashkenazi_Jewish_intelligence [wikipedia.org]

Re:20% of nobel prize are jewish.. 0.2% of populat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42438243)

I bought the book on "Greatest Jewish Atheletes". It's a pamphlet.


Re:20% of nobel prize are jewish.. 0.2% of populat (1)

nbauman (624611) | about 2 years ago | (#42439779)

That's because you're not fulfilling your manhood by living in Israel.
http://www.evcomics.com/2008/05/29/israel-man-and-diaspora-boy/ [evcomics.com]
(Warning: Jewish humor)

By the way, if you think that's funny, be sure to read the propaganda magazine he's parodying it and you'll really appreciate the jokes. It's like The Great Dictator/Triumph of the Will
http://www.shoah.org.uk/2011/01/16/beyond-satir-captain-israhell-fights-the-snake-of-bds/ [shoah.org.uk]

Re:20% of nobel prize are jewish.. 0.2% of populat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42441013)

Who’s the greatest Jewish Jock of all time? The strongest (and most screamingly obvious) case can be made for Sandy Koufax. His image and career come very close to perfection. It helps that he retired before we could witness him at less than full strength. (In his final season, he won 27 times, each of them a complete game!) And his decision to sit out Yom Kippur—and the applause he received for it—certified Jewish assimilation in this country. I can also make a case for Benny Leonard, the greatest of the Jewish pugilists. He won the lightweight title in 1917 and didn't let it go until 1925. The authoritative Bert Sugar (also a Jew) has rated him the sixth best pound-for-pound fighter of all time—just one spot below Muhammad Ali. http://mobile.slate.com/articles/sports/sports_nut/2012/10/jewish_jocks_franklin_foer_on_his_new_book_about_the_greatest_jewish_athletes.html?original_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2Fsearch%3Fhl%3Den%26gl%3DUS%26ie%3DUTF-8%26source%3Dandroid-browser%26q%3Dmovie%2Bairplane%252C%2Bjewish%2Batheletes [slate.com]

Re:20% of nobel prize are jewish.. 0.2% of populat (0)

nbauman (624611) | about 2 years ago | (#42440185)

Actually, one of the things that struck me about the life of Rita Levi-Montalcini and her circle was that so many of them were Italian Jews who had married Italian Christians and vice versa. They were atheists and socialists or Communists, and many of them fought in the resistance.

One of my childhood heroes was Enrico Fermi, whose wife, Laura, was Jewish.

You seem to be referring to this argument about Tay-Sachs carriers http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/03/science/03gene.html?pagewanted=all [nytimes.com] As this article, and the Wikipedia article, points out, the argument has just enough evidence behind it to be intriguing, but not yet enough evidence to be convincing.

I once had a psychology textbook that was written in the 1950s. It was full of bell curves of Negro IQs, white IQs, and Jewish IQs. The Negro IQ curves were 15 points to the left of the white curves, and the Jewish curves were 15 points to the right of the white curves. Data like this led Charles Murray to conclude that Negroes were just plain genetically inferior, although, Murray hastened to add, they did have those mental skills that were useful in the jungles of Africa. So it's futile to try to bring Negroes up to the intellectual accomplishments of white people, Murray argued in the Wall Street Journal, and affirmative action will merely make them frustrated and unhappy. So the lower educational accomplishments of Negroes wasn't due to the lingering effects of slavery and Jim Crow, it wasn't due to the segregated schools where Negroes got textbooks after they were thrown out by white schools, where Negroes were taught how to be carpenters while white students were taught how to be lawyers. Negroes just didn't have the genes for intelligence that like white men did. And, as Charles Murray liked to say, they didn't have the genes like "you guys," the Jews.

I was not very comfortable with these theories, which were not confirmed by later examination.

In fact, I work in biology today, and my own favorite biology teacher, who taught me the important ideas in genetics that I use today, was a black woman. It would be the height of ingratitude for me to tolerate racism towards her children and grandchildren after all she gave me. And I've met a lot of black kids who were smarter than me, particularly in the sciences, which leads me (and a lot of other people) to suspect that Murray must have dropped a decimal point, or has a screw loose, somewhere.

In my understanding, most geneticists are ready to believe that about half of intelligence is due to environment, and half due to genetics. In countries like Finland, which is probably the most egalitarian society in the world, everybody gets a relatively equal educational environment, so much of the variation could be due to genetics. But in countries like the U.S., which is one of the most unequal countries in the world, the effect of environment washes out any genetic effect. At least 20 points of IQ is due to the environment. In the US, and in much of Europe, the Jews are an affluent, successful minority, http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/images/cartoon.jpg [typepad.com] particularly in the scientific professions, so it's understandable that they would be winning Nobel prizes disproportionately. It may turn out that Jewish success is entirely environmental.

But these Italian scientists, and their political inspirations like Rosa Luxemburg, said that it's time to put our ethnic identities and religious superstitions behind us, and build a socialist society where everyone -- Jew, Christian, African and everyone else -- will be educated and contribute to their fullest potential.

Re:20% of nobel prize are jewish.. 0.2% of populat (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42440619)

I never read any book about it like you have, but I always had a gut feeling that the average jew is smarter than the average caucasian, and the average caucasian is smarter than the average black person.
I don't want to be a racist and insult all black people, just like you have, I have met some admirable black people in my life.

Re:20% of nobel prize are jewish.. 0.2% of populat (0)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 2 years ago | (#42441261)

The American Psychological Association has said that while there are differences in average IQ between racial groups, and there is no conclusive evidence for environmental explanations, "there is certainly no [direct empirical] support for a genetic interpretation," and no adequate explanation for the racial IQ gap is presently available. [6][7] The position of the American Anthropological Association is that intelligence cannot be biologically determined by race. [8] According to a 1996 statement from the American Association of Physical Anthropologists, although heredity influences behavior in individuals, it does not affect the ability of a population to function in any social setting, all peoples "possess equal biological ability to assimilate any human culture" and "racist political doctrines find no foundation in scientific knowledge concerning modern or past human populations." [9]

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_and_intelligence [wikipedia.org]

A lot less was understood about humanity in the 1950's. Backward ideas abounded then, and racism skewed studies published in that era. Why trust studies performed over 60 years ago to be fair and un-tainted by then-accepted ideas? We now know that we are all the same, basically. People with a darker skin color have more melanin (natural reaction to sunlight) than lighter color skinned people. Human migration out of Africa into more northern, colder climates, meant those people wore more clothes to keep warm, blocking off the sunlight. It's just skin pigmentation, look at pics of the now infamous 'tanning mom'. People are people, regardless of skin tone, or where their more recent ancestors lived. 10,000 years ago we all lived in Africa, and DNA tests have shown the entire human race derived from a handful of women, 11 is the number I've heard. The cultural differences are the only things that have kept us apart, and the world's a much differnt place today, thanks largely due to freedom of knowledge and information of the internet.

Today, ignorance is all that seperates us.

Re:20% of nobel prize are jewish.. 0.2% of populat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42442909)

Those studies were done 60 years ago because no sane scientist would dare to conduct such a study today.
If you think about it, there are other differences between races, its not just the skin color. Some diseases affect more, or exclusively one race. African descendants tend to have a better muscle tone and to be better at sports.

For Fuck's sake... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42436331)

NGF (nerve growth factor) and related growth factors.

The article's summary is literally bullshit spewed from talking heads

Nobel Peace Prize (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42436341)

I think 'Anonymous' should win the Nobel peace prize; after all, Obama won it, and the Europian Union won it, and it would quickly humble Obama and the E.U. where that prize is concerned.

besides, it's the only way Nobel can redeem themselves for those two major mistakes.

RIP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42436745)

Rest in Peace.
An incredible woman.

Giuseppe Levi (5, Informative)

nbauman (624611) | about 2 years ago | (#42437465)

Giuseppe Levi http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giuseppe_Levi [wikipedia.org] http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=it&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fit.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FGiuseppe_Levi [google.com] had 3 students who went on to win Nobel prizes. Biologists had been studying gross anatomy from before human history. In Levi's time, they had really good microscopes for 100 years, so they had extended that study to the tissues and cells of the organs. Levi extended that to understand the physiological mechanisms of those tissues. He could see that brain cells were growing, but how were they growing and why were they growing?

He assigned Rita Levi-Montalcini to figure out how the brain developed. It was an impossible problem, so she did what scientists often do and attacked a simpler problem: How does a nerve cell develop? She finally found a factor that caused it to grow. Now we have more growth factors than you could cover in an hour's biology class.

Levi's second student, Salvador Luria, wound up studying bacteriophages, the viruses that attack bacteria. He (they, really -- these were collective efforts) found out that some bacteria was resistant to viruses. It turned out that the mechanism of resistance was restriction enzymes that would chop the DNA or RNA of viruses at particular sequences that were found in the viruses but not in the bacteria themselves. This turned out to be a fantastically useful tool for studying DNA and RNA. Grad students use it every day.

Levi's third student, Renato Dulbecco, discovered a virus that turned cells cancerous. It turned out that very few human cancers are caused by viruses, but the study of that one example of how cells become cancerous through viruses helped to unravel the whole mechanism of cancer. One of his contributions was to the technique of growing cells, and you can read medical reports today that cells were grown in Dulbecco's medium. During WWII, Dulbecco joined the Resistance against the Nazis.

Another Italian Nobel laureate in that group, but not a student of Levi's, was Mario Capecchi. Capecci had a hard childhood during WWII. His father was drafted to fight in North Africa as an anti-aircraft gunner, but he was lost in combat. His mother was an American, the daughter of an American artist and a German archaeologist, but like most of this bunch she was a Communist, and they sent her to Dachau. She had made provision for a peasant family to take care of Mario, but that fell apart and he wound up at the age of 4 on the streets, like in one of those post-war Italian movies. After the war, his mother got out of Dachau, and found him in a hospital. Finally, his mother's brother, who was a physicist at RCA, found them and brought them to America, where Mario finally got his education.

Mario Capecchi was playing around with the repair mechanisms of DNA, which are subverted by viruses, and figured out how to use them to knock out a single gene in mice (or any animals). If you know any biology, you understand how useful this was. Today, when a researcher finds a mutation responsible for a disease the routine thing he does is to create a knockout mouse to see what happens without that gene. It's like having an on/off switch to see what happens when you turn a gene on and off.

After Capecchi won the Nobel prize in 2008, his half-sister in Austria recognized him as her long-lost brother.

Those Italian biologists were an interesting bunch, and they lived in dramatic times.

Re:Giuseppe Levi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42437947)

Two words.

Simply. Fascinating.

standards have fallen, just a bit (0)

argStyopa (232550) | about 2 years ago | (#42438271)

I read this, and am absolutely amazed and impressed at her brilliance. She really was a credit to the human race in general as so many of the Nobel Prize winners have been historically.

And then I see that our President got a Nobel for what, again?

Re:standards have fallen, just a bit (1)

king*six (2607999) | about 2 years ago | (#42438397)

And then I see that our President got a Nobel for what, again?

For being black, d'uh.

Re:standards have fallen, just a bit (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 2 years ago | (#42438615)

Aw c'mon. I'm not feeling like a flamewar about this, I'll just paste this excerpt from Wikipedia and leave it at that.

"Another controversial Peace Prize was that awarded to Barack Obama in 2009. [116] Nominations had closed only eleven days after Obama took office as President, but the actual evaluation occurred over the next eight months. [52] Obama himself stated that he did not feel deserving of the award, [117][118] or worthy of the company it would place him in. [119] Past Peace Prize laureates were divided, some saying that Obama deserved the award, and others saying he had not yet earned it. Obama's award, along with the previous Peace Prizes for Jimmy Carter and Al Gore, also prompted accusations of a left-wing bias."

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobel_Prize [wikipedia.org]

Re:standards have fallen, just a bit (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#42449013)

And then I see that our President got a Nobel for what, again?

For being black, d'uh.

No, it was for not being George W Bush.

Re:standards have fallen, just a bit (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 2 years ago | (#42438489)

Isn't the Nobel prize meant to be not just an agknowledgment of good works, but also an encouragement to go on to do even more good for their field of expertise? For those who, through their deeds have made a life affecting change for the betterment of the human race? If so, I pose this to you: You may not agree or like some of the previous winners, but can you truly say that they did not meet that criteria, including President Obama?

"There are no detailed criteria for winning a Nobel Prize. Instead, this prestigious Swedish award is given out annually based on nominations of people who have made the greatest contributions in five fields: chemistry, literature, medicine, physics, and peace (a sixth prize, in economics, is not technically a Nobel Prize).

The Nobel Prizes are the most prestigious awards in their respective fields, although the Peace Prize alone generally attracts the most attention from the media and the general public. Since 1901 (and the Prize in Economics since 1969), these prizes have been awarded annually to those individuals or groups who have made the most important contribution to human progress in their respective subjects. The awards are granted by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Nobel Assembly, the Swedish Academy, and the Norwegian Nobel Committee on the basis of the original endowment left by Swedish businessman Alfred Nobel. Winners currently receive a $1.5 million prize." http://www.helium.com/items/1920814-how-to-win-a-nobel-prize [helium.com]

Losing someone from my country.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42438815)

...who I am not totally ashamed of... is a true, incommensurable loss.

Re:Losing someone from my country.... (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 2 years ago | (#42438923)

Wikipedia has a list of great Italian people, too large to list here...

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Italians [wikipedia.org]

You have quite good reasons to be proud of your heritage. :)

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