sBiochemist Rita Levi-Montalcini passed away recently at her home in Rome. She was the Nobelist in Physiology or Medicine for 1986, along with Stanley Cohen. They had isolated and characterized nerve growth factor. Active scientifically will into her 10 decade, Levi-Montalcini came from a background in which a domineering father ruled his wife and daughters completely. She rebelled, and at first in defiance of her father but finally with his consent, began to study medicine. After medical school and an attempt to specialize in neurology which was frustrated when Mussolini’s racial laws barred Jews from professional careers, she went to Belgium than back to Italy and after WWII, to the USA in St. Louis, at Washington University, where she remained for thirty years. In addition to her research contributions to the understanding of neural functioning, she was an ardent partisan of education for women, helping numerous women from Africa enter colleges.
At 100 she claimed she had a better brain than at age 20, because gained experience helped balance any loss. Maybe. I hope so. At any rate, she was a formidable lady.