Levi-Montalcini, Rita

▪ Italian-American neurologist
born April 22, 1909, Turin, Italy

      neurologist who, with biochemist Stanley Cohen (Cohen, Stanley), shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1986 for her discovery of a bodily substance that stimulates and influences the growth of nerve cells. She held dual citizenship in Italy and the United States.

      Levi-Montalcini studied medicine at the University of Turin and did research there on the effects that peripheral tissues have on nerve cell growth. Forced into hiding in Florence during the German occupation of Italy (1943–45) because of her Jewish ancestry, she was able to resume her research at Turin after the war. In 1947 she accepted a post at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, with the zoologist Viktor Hamburger, who was studying the growth of nerve tissue in chick embryos.

      In 1948 it was discovered in Hamburger's laboratory that a variety of mouse tumour spurred nerve growth when implanted into chick embryos. Levi-Montalcini and Hamburger traced the effect to a substance in the tumour that they named nerve-growth factor (NGF). Levi-Montalcini further showed that the tumour caused similar cell growth in a nerve-tissue culture kept alive in the laboratory, and Stanley Cohen, who by then had joined her at Washington University, was able to isolate the NGF from the tumour. NGF was the first of many cell-growth factors to be found in the bodies of animals. It plays an important role in the growth of nerve cells and fibres in the peripheral nervous system.

      Levi-Montalcini remained active in the field, working at Washington University until 1961 and afterward at the Institute of Cell Biology in Rome. In 1987 she was awarded the National Medal of Science, and an autobiographical work, In Praise of Imperfection, was published in 1988. In 2001 Italian prime minister Carlo Azeglio Ciampi appointed Levi-Montalcini Senator-for-Life for her outstanding contributions to science.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • LEVI-MONTALCINI, RITA — (1911– ), neurobiologist, Nobel Prize winner. Levi Montalcini was born in Italy and grew up in Turin. She earned her degree in medicine at the University of Turin where she was employed until 1939 when she was barred by the Fascists from… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Levi-Montalcini , Rita — (1909–) Italian cell biologist Levi Montalcini was educated at the university in her native city of Turin, graduating from medical school just before the outbreak of World War II. Being of Italian Jewish descent, she found that posts in Italy s… …   Scientists

  • Levi-Montalcini, Rita — (1909– ). An eminent neurobiologist, Rita Levi Montalcini won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1986 for her groundbreaking work on nerve growth factor (NGF), a protein that governs the development and differentiation of nerve cells. The Nobel… …   Historical Dictionary of modern Italy

  • Levi-Montalcini,Rita — Le·vi Mon·tal·ci·ni (lēʹvē mŏn tl chēʹnē, lĕʹvē mōn täl ), Rita. Born 1909. Italian born developmental biologist. She shared a 1986 Nobel Prize for the discovery of nerve growth factor. * * * …   Universalium

  • Levi-Montalcini, Rita — ► (n. 1909) Bióloga italiana. Fue premio Nobel de Medicina y Fisiología en 1986, compartido con S. Cohen, por sus investigaciones sobre los factores de crecimiento celular …   Enciclopedia Universal

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  • Rita levi-montalcini — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Levi. Rita Levi Montalcini …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Rita Levi Montalcini — Rita Levi Montalcini, 2007 Rita Levi Montalcini, 1965 Rita Levi Montalcini (* 22. April 1909 in Turin, I …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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