31 Dec 2012

Death of neurologist

10:00 am on 31 December 2012

Rita Levi-Montalcini,a winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine and a Senator for Life in Italy, has died in Rome.

One of twins born to a Jewish family in Turin in 1909, she was the oldest living recipient of the prize.

Miss Levi-Montalcini, 103, won acclaim for her work on cells, which furthered understanding of a range of conditions, including cancer.

In 1986 she shared the Nobel Prize for medicine with biochemist Stanley Cohen for research carried out in the United States.

Their research shed new light on the development and survival of human cells, helping to improve the treatment of a range of conditions including cancers.

From 1947 she was based for more than 20 years at Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri. There she discovered nerve growth factor, which regulates the growth of cells.

She later worked at the National Council of Scientific Research in Rome.

Her research was recognised to have advanced the understanding of conditions including tumours, malformations and senile dementia.

In 2001, Miss Levi-Montalcini, was nominated to the Italian upper house of parliament as a Senator for Life, an honour bestowed on some of Italy's most distinguished public figures.

She was an ambassador for the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, and founded the Levi-Montalcini Foundation, which carries out charity work in Africa.