Nobel Prize for Medicine, 1986
She was born in Turin Turin on the 22nd of April, 1909 in a family of Sephardic Jews. She graduated in Medicine in 1936 and worked as an assistant to the renowned histologist Giusseppe Levi until, in 1938, Mussolini published his Manifesto of Race, which banned Jews from practicing their professions.
During World War II, encouraged by her great admiration for the Spanish Nobel Prize Santiago Ramón y Cajal, she continued her research on the growth of nerve cells in embryos in secrecy; this was the base of her future work, which would revolutionize Neuroembryology.
In 1947, she was invited for a semester to Washington University in Saint Louis (Missouri) by Professor Viktor Hamburger. Those six months turned into thirty years of advances and setbacks, which would lead her to the top of science with the discovery of the Nerve Growth Factor. In 1986, she received the Nobel Prize for Medicine.
In 1992 she created the Levi-Montalcini Foundation for supporting the education of African women. She founded the European Institute for Research on Brain (EBRI), and was Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations and senator for life in Italy. In 1988, she was delighted to travel to Spain to collect the first Cajal Diploma; She came back two years later to receive the Gold Medal of CSIC (the Spanish National Research Council) and in 2008 she returned to be invested Doctor Honoris Causa by the Complutense University of Madrid. She died in Rome, on December 30, 2012, at the age of 103.
She combined research and writing until the end of her life. Her main books are In Praise of Imperfection: My Life and Work; Times of Change; The Pioneers: women that changed Society and Science from antiquity to present days; Eve was African or The new Magellan of the Digital Er@