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LUIGI GORINI November 13, 1903–August 13, 1976

Jonathan Beckwith, Dan Fraenkel


Luigi gorini, professor in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Harvard Medical School and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, died August 13, 1976. He was born on November 13, 1903 in Milan, Italy. His father was a microbiologist. Luigi obtained his first degree from the University of Pavia in 1925; his thesis (1925) was in organic chemistry, but his interest was in biology. He continued his studies in organic chemistry, but he was to publish only four papers in the next twenty years.

In 1931 the Italian government moved to control the universities by requiring a Fascist oath. Luigi described this period in a speech at Montana State University on February 10, 1970.

The first uproar was no unanimously—we will never do that. But then came second thoughts, the rationalization: we scientists should not be involved in politics, we should not permit that others, worse than us, would take our responsibilities, etc. At the end, we were about one hundred no’s out of about 10,000 university people. And so we quit. It was not an easy thing to do, not only materially but especially for the spirit. We, the one percent, started a double life, political underground for our soul and professional marginal for our belly. I discovered very quickly that the ability to convey opinions, to convince others, was not a gift that I had, so I did my underground work which may look romantically wonderful in retrospect, but seen from inside was...

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