Rita Levi-Montalcini

Italian neurologist

Rita Levi-Montalcini (22 April 190930 December 2012) was an Italian neurologist and politician who, together with colleague Stanley Cohen, received the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Rita Levi Montalcini.jpg


  • I never had any hesitation or regrets in this sense. My life has been enriched by excellent human relations, work and interests. I have never felt lonely.
    • Of the fact that she never married; quoted in Associated Press obituary.
  • It is imperfection — not perfection — that is the end result of the program written into that formidably complex engine that is the human brain, and of the influences exerted upon us by the environment and whoever takes care of us during the long years of our physical, psychological and intellectual development.
  • After centuries of dormancy, young women can now look toward a future moulded by their own hands.
  • The allegations against Fidia cannot be true. The process for awarding Nobel prizes is so complex that it cannot be corrupted.
    • Rebutting allegations that the pharmaceutical company Fidia had paid for her to get her Nobel prize. Quoted in Obituary in The Guardian


  • She had this feeling for what was happening biologically. She was an intuitive observer, and she saw that something was making these nerve connections grow and was determined to find out what it was.
  • She seemed able to face with equal equanimity the rigours of fascist cruelty and suppression that she was dealt as a Jew; the problems of practising underground medicine in wartime; the difficulties posed by prejudice and discrimination against women; and the near isolation and challenges of those working at the cutting edge of science.

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