Skip to content

Home  |  JOIN  |  Contact Us  |  Member Portal


Rita Levi-Montalcini

Rita Levi-Montalcini was a Jewish Italian Scientist who received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1986 for discovering growth factors. She discovered Nerve Growth Factor in the laboratory that she set up in her bedroom when she was hiding from Nazis during World War II in Italy. Rita Levi-Montalcini was active scientifically and politically (she was a sentaor for life in Italy) until her last breath at 103 years old.

Rita Levi-Montalcini graduated summa cum laude in medicine and surgery from the University of Turin in 1936 but had to leave academia in 1938 when Mussolini came to power and established the Manifesto of Race and laws barring Jews from working. She did not give up; not even when Nazis came to power and she had to flee and hide to escape from the Holocaust. She would buy fertilized chicken eggs for experiments and then eat the leftovers to survive. I am inspired by the perseverence of this remarkable person who persued scientific research in terrible circumstances and under tremendous difficulties. Whenever I encounter a particularly difficult situation, I always look at the picture of Rita Levi-Montalcini and remember that whatever hardship I encounter cannot be even remotely as difficult as what Rita Levi-Montalcini has gone through.

Submitted by Sophie Astrof