Levi-Montalcini, Rita (lāˈvē-mŏnˌtəlsēˈnē) [key], 1909–2012, Italian-American neurologist, b. Turin, Italy, M.D. Univ. of Turin, 1936. A dual citizen of Italy and the United States, Levi-Montalcini did her most important work with Stanley Cohen at Washington Univ., where she was a professor from 1956 to 1977. Studying mouse tumors implanted in chicken embryos, the pair isolated a nerve growth factor, the first of many cell growth factors found in animals; some of these were also first described by Levi-Montalcini and by Cohen. The discovery of nerve growth factor radically changed the study of cell growth and development. For this discovery Levi-Montalcini and Cohen were awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
See her autobiography, In Praise of Imperfection (1988).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.