C. Nombela, E. Giné, F. de Castro Neurosciences and History 2020;8(2):39-48
Type of article: ORIGINAL
C. Nombela1,2, E. Giné3, F. de Castro4 1Department of Biological and Health Psychology. School of Psychology, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid, Spain. 2Madrid Institute for Advanced Study, Madrid, Spain. 3Department of Cellular Biology. School of Medicine, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain. 4Cajal Institute-CSIC, Madrid, Spain.
Introduction. This study analyses the figure of Manuela Serra, who collaborated with the Nobel laureate Santiago Ramón y Cajal, as he himself noted in a list of collaborators and disciples in 1922, shortly before retiring.
Methods. We consulted the Legado Cajal (Instituto Cajal, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas [CSIC]), the archive of the Junta de Ampliación de Estudios (CSIC), and the historical archive of the Universidad Central (Universidad Complutense de Madrid), and conducted interviews with the descendants of Manuela Serra and her sister Carmen Serra.
Results. Manuela Serra began working as a “preparadora” (laboratory technician) in the Laboratorio de Investigaciones Biológicas (today, Instituto Cajal) in 1919, and soon stood out for her “sharp intelligence.” In 1921, she published her only research article, which analysed gliofibrils in the spinal cord of frogs, illustrating mitosis in a mature astrocyte and the presence of microglia for the first time in amphibians. The study featured seven elegant illustrations by the author. During her time at the laboratory, Cajal acknowledged the quality of Serra’s scientific work on many occasions, as did the Junta de Ampliación de Estudios. Serra married in 1927 and ceased to conduct research.
Discussion. This study is intended to complement a previous work (Giné et al., 2019) on the women researchers among Cajal’s students, a subject not previously addressed in detail.
Neurohistological school, Spanish Neurological School, Cajal school, glia, women neuroscientists, Santiago Ramón y Cajal
Neurosciences and History 2020;8(2):39-48
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