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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 15 (2010) pp 73-78

Rita Levi-Montalcini, the First Nobel Centenarian

George B. Kauffman* and Jean-Pierre Adloff

Department of Chemistry, California State University, Fresno, Fresno, CA 93740-8034,, Honorary Professor, Université Louis Pasteur, 63 Rue Saint Urbain, Strasbourg, France F-67100,

Published: 16 January 2010

Abstract. On April 22, 2009 Rita Levi-Montalcini attained her 100th birthday, becoming the oldest living Nobel laureate and the first to reach the hundredth birthday.  That same day in Rome the European Brain Research Institute presented a Symposium on “The Brain in Health and Diseases,” celebrating her life and work in the presence of her Nobel co-laureate Stanley Cohen. On October 10, 1986 the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine had been awarded to Rita Levi-Montalcini and Stanley Cohen “for their discoveries of growth factors.” This article briefly considers Levi-Montalcini’s life and career in both Italy and the United States, with quotations from her addresses and writings.

Key Words: Chemistry and History; Nobel Prize; Physiology; Medicine; Biography; Longevity; Brain Research; Italy; World War II; Anti-Semitism; Feminism; Women in Science; Chick Embryo; Nerve Growth Factor; Epidermal Growth Factor; Neurology; Biology; Zoology; Embryology; Neuroembryology

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

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