Levi-Montalcini, Rita lā´vē-mŏn˝təlsē´nē [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, she discovered nerve growth factor, which he subsequently isolated. It was 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).
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