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What Rita Montalcini Did to Get a Nobel Prize

Date: 2019-08-05 03:00:06

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The heroine of this story lived a very long life; the longest among Nobel prize winners. She was an amazing woman who became a scientist, despite her father’s objection. Not even the cruel dictates of Mussolini would interfere with her intention to advance science.

Rita Levi-Montalcini was the most extravagant Nobel Prize winner, and one of only a few women who have done so. She lived to be 103 years old and devoted her whole life to science. She was a neurobiologist and brain specialist who gained international recognition and legendary fame, making history with science, despite all the obstacles she faced…

Career or family? 0:56
Why Rita’s scientific career was challenged 3:41
Great discovery 4:14
So what about family? 6:53
Secrets of her longevity 7:38

#NobelPrize #FamousWomen #brightside

Preview photo credit:

A viewer looks at giant photo of 1985 Nobel Prize for Medicine laureate Rita Levi-Montalcini, right: By FABRIZIO GIOVANNOZZI/ASSOCIATED PRESS/East News,
Animation is created by Bright Side.

– Rita was born in Italy on April 22, 1909 in a patriarchal family. Her mother, Adele Montalcini, was an artist. Her father, Adamo Levi was an engineer and mathematician.
– Her father loved his daughters very much and had a great respect for women in general, but he thought that their career would interfere with their duty as wives and mothers.
– The girls got a good domestic education, but Rita wasn’t going to be satisfied with the role of mother and wife.
– Against all her father’s objections, Rita spent 8 months learning Latin and biology all by herself, and entered the medical college of the University of Turin.
– After graduation, she started working as an assistant to a well-known scientist, Giuseppe Levi.
– In 1938, Rita’s scientific career was challenged when Mussolini issued an ordinance refusing to allow Jews to have a professional career.
– Later, she would say that she was grateful for this obstacle, as working at home by herself allowed her to achieve better results.
– Soon, American colleagues became interested in the results of her research. Viktor Hamburger, a neurobiologist and embryologist, was among them.
– Like any absurd idea of a young scientist, at first it wasn’t accepted by the scientific society. But still, Hamburger invited Rita to St. Louis and made her a staff scientist.
– The scientific community wasn’t very enthusiastic about the discovery. It was widely known then that the nerve tissue couldn’t regenerate or grow.
– And yet, Montalcini and Kohen turned out to be right, and discovered many other Growth Factors.
– Having made a remarkable career in the US, professor Levi-Montalcini came back to her homeland and devoted herself to developing science in Italy.
– Rita’s works in the US were instrumental in further research of cancer and Alzheimer disease.
– She never got married, and had no children, but it was her conscious decision.
– At the celebration of her 100th birthday at the European Brain Research Institute, which she’d founded herself, she said that she kept an amazing clarity of mind because of everyday work.
– Among other secrets or longevity that she shared was waking up early, going to bed at 11 pm, and moderate eating.
– In Italy, in 2001, she became a Senator for life. This title is only given to ex-presidents and the citizens who have brought glory to their homeland by their achievements in art and science.

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