Heather Merrick Rita Levi-Montalcini

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by hmmerrick23
Last updated 7 years ago

Discipline:
Science
Subject:
Scientific Biographies

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Heather Merrick Rita Levi-Montalcini

Rita Levi-Montalcini

Early Life

Research and Road Blocks

Role Model

Montalcini was greatly influenced by an article published in 1934 by Viktor Hamburg. He reported on the nerve development of chicken embryos. Her own research expanded on his ideas. Later in 1947, he invited Montalcini to study with him at Washington University in the United States. Thus began her long career studying medicine in both Italy and America. ....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Rita Levi-Montalcini was born in 1909 in Turin, Italy. She grew up in a male dominated household where her father believed that a woman's responsibility was to remain in the home as a wife and mother. She and her twin sister were not allowed to attend school. At the age of 20, she realized she would never be happy living the way her father expected her to. She pleaded with him to allow her to go to school and he finally relented. In 8 months she completed her requirements for high school and entered medical school in Italy. She graduated from medical school in 1936 with a Summa cum Laude in Medicine and Surgery. Source: Nobel Prize.org

During WWII, Mussolini declared that non-Aryan citizens were no longer allowed to pursue academic and professional careers in Italy. Montalcini was forced to work on her research in secret. She built a research lab in her bedroom where she conducted studies on the development of the vertebrate nervous system in secret. When her city was bombed, she was forced to flee to Florence. During the war, she provided medical care to the numerous refugees fleeing parts of Europe. After Italy was liberated she was invited to study in the United States by Viktor Hamburg. In 1952, she discovered that when tumors were transplanted from mice into chicken embryos, the "tumors released a nerve growth promoting factor" (NGF) which effected certain types of nerve cells. In 1953, Montalcini and her assistant, Stanley Cohen were able to develop a purified nerve growth promoting extract. Her discoveries have led to breakthrough understandings and possible future treatments for such diseases as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s as well as some psychiatric disorders such as depression and anorexia. Source: The Telegraph

Awards and Accomplishments

Montalcini and her assistant Stanley Cohen were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1986 for their research on nerve cell factors. She continued to work well into her old age. She founded the Institute of Cell Biology in Rome in 1962 as well as the European Brain Research Institute in 2002. Even up to her death at the age of 103 in 2012, she worked on her research every day. Source: The Biography Channel Website

Sources: http://www.biography.com/people/rita-levi-montalcini-9380593http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1986/levi-montalcini-bio.htmlhttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/9773327/Rita-Levi-Montalcini.html

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