Rita Levi-Montalcini

is an amazing woman.

Here we see her celebrating on the occasion of becoming the first Nobel Prize-Winner to reach 100. The neuroscientist won the prize for her work on Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), with which she’s dosed herself for some time. Others suspect this may be part of the reason for not only her longevity but her amazing vigour. She says her mind is sharper than ever “because it has been enriched by so many experiences”. Levi-Montalcini still works every day, dividing her time between the European Brain research Institute, which she founded and a foundation to help African women with a facility for science. If by some chance your jaw isn’t yet dropping to the floor in admiration, consider how she got her start– fighting both anti-Semitism and sexism in early 20th century Italy (her father didn’t want her to go to medical school, and Mussolini fired her under his anti-Semitic race purity laws). She did research in her bedroom and in a makeshift farmhouse laboratory during WWII. More recently, as an Italian senator-for-life she’s “earned the wrath of the right-wing”.

And here’s a wonderful line from a woman turning 100: “It’s not enough what I did in the past — there is also the future.”

For more see here and here. (Thanks, Jender-Parents!)

4 thoughts on “Rita Levi-Montalcini

  1. Her autobiography, In Praise of Imperfection (1988), is well worth reading; not only has she had an interesting life, she has quite the sense of humor.

  2. And I think she looks truly beautiful, too. Look at that air, that gracefulness!
    For what it matters.

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