Rita Levi Montalcini “ Maintain your mind illuminated, active and make it function and it will never degenerate.” Cristy Vargas
Who is Rita Levi Montalcini... <ul><li>Father: Adamo Levi (electrical engineer) </li></ul><ul><li>Mother: Adele Montalcini (artist) </li></ul><ul><li>Brother: Gino Levi-Montalcini (architect, b. 1902, d. 1974) </li></ul><ul><li>Sister: Anna Levi-Montalcini (b. 1904) </li></ul><ul><li>Sister: Paola Levi-Montalcini (twin, artist, b. 22-Apr-1909, d. 2000) </li></ul><ul><li>Medical School: MD, University of Turin </li></ul><ul><li>Teacher: Medicine, University of Turin (1945-47) </li></ul><ul><li>Teacher: Embryology, Washington University in St. Louis (1947-58) </li></ul><ul><li>Professor: Washington University in St. Louis (1958-77) </li></ul><ul><li>Administrator: Research Center of Neurobiology, Italian National Council of Research (1961-69) </li></ul><ul><li>Administrator: Director of the Institute of Cell Biology, Italian National Council of Research (1969-79) </li></ul>
Childhood <ul><li>Rita Levi Montalcini was born on April 22, 1909 in Turin, Italy. </li></ul><ul><li>She was a twin and the youngest of 4 children. </li></ul><ul><li>Parents were Adamo Levi, an electrical engineer and gifted mathematician, and Adele Montalcini, a talented painter </li></ul>
Education <ul><li>Coming from a typical Victorian lifestyle, her father controlled the decisions of the household. </li></ul><ul><li>He had great respect for women, but he believed that a professional career would interfere with the duties of a wife and mother </li></ul>
<ul><li>At the age of 20, she realized she could not adjust to a feminine role, and she asked her father for permission to engage in a professional career. </li></ul><ul><li>In eight months, she filled her gaps in Latin, Greek and mathematics, graduated from high school, and entered medical school in Turin. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Two of her university colleagues and close friends, Salvador Luria and Renato Dulbecco, were to receive the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, respectively, seventeen and eleven years before she would receive the same most prestigious award. All three of them were students of the famous Italian histologist, Giuseppe Levi. </li></ul>
Medical School <ul><li>-In 1936, she graduated from medical school with a Summa Cum Laude degree in Medicine and Surgery, and enrolled in the three year specialization in neurology and psychiatry </li></ul><ul><li>-She returned to Turin on the verge of the invasion of Belgium by the German army, Spring 1940, to join her family. Fascist laws prevented Italian Jews from practicing medicine or working in universities at that time </li></ul>
Getting Creative <ul><li>She decided to build a small research unit at home and installed it in her bedroom. Her inspiration was a 1934 article by Viktor Hamburger reporting on the effects of limb extirpation or nerve fiber growth in chicken embryos. Her project had barely started when Giuseppe Levi, who had escaped from Belgium invaded by Nazis, returned to Turin and joined her, he became her first and only assistant. </li></ul>
Nerve Growth Factor Discovery <ul><li>By the early 1950s she had demonstrated that the number of nerve cells produced in these embryos could be influenced by an agent (later termed nerve growth factor) obtained from a mouse tumor-cell culture. </li></ul>
Further Research <ul><li>In 1952 the Italian embryologist was joined by an American biochemist, Stanley Cohen, who collaborated with her in determining the chemical nature of this growth factor. Cohen went on to investigate another growth factor, epidermal growth factor, which controls the embryological development of tissues such as eyes and teeth. </li></ul>
What is NGF? <ul><li>Growth factors are naturally occurring, essential biological mediators that promote cell growth, differentiation, survival and function in specific nerve cell populations a protein that causes developing cells to grow by stimulating surrounding nerve tissue. </li></ul>The brighter neuron shows an increase in free radical activity that peaked three hours after neurons were deprived of a life-sustaining substance called nerve growth factor. This suggests that free radicals may play a role in the death of neurons and, possibly, neurodegenerative disorders.
Road to Success <ul><li>The war in Italy ended in May 1945. She returned with my family to Turin where she resumed her academic positions at the University. In the Fall of 1947, an invitation from Professor Viktor Hamburger to join him and repeat the experiments which they had performed many years earlier in the chick embryo, was to change the course of her life. </li></ul>
Nobel Peace Prize <ul><li>-In 1962, she established a research unit in Rome, dividing her time between Rome and St. Louis. </li></ul><ul><li>-From 1969 to 1978, she also held the position of Director of the Institute of Cell Biology of the Italian National Council of Research, in Rome. Upon retirement in 1979, she became Guest Professor of this same institute. </li></ul>Nobel Prize Assembly in its press release of 13 October 1986, "a fascinating example of how a skilled observer can create a concept out of apparent chaos".
Montalcini <ul><li>Rita Levi Montalcini's dedication to her studies and curiosity in her research, not only opened doors in the fields of neurology, but also inspired many women during her times and today to never give up. Her discoveries of Nerve Growth Factor provided fundamental importance to the understanding of cell and organ growth and plays a significant role in understanding cancers and diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. </li></ul>
References <ul><li>Montalcini, Rita. "Rita Levi Montalcini Nobel Peace Prize Autobiography." Nobel Peace Prize Org. 1986. 19 Mar. 2009 <nobelpeaceprize.org>. </li></ul><ul><li>NNDB Tracking the World. Jan. 2009. Soylent Communications. 15 Mar. 2009 < http://www.nndb.com/people/062/000132663/ >. </li></ul><ul><li>Silberner, Joanne. "See more articles from Science+News Collaborators Cohen, Levi-Montalcini win medical Nobel. (Stanley Cohen, Rita Levi-Montalcini)." Science News. 18 Oct. 1986. 20 Mar. 2009. </li></ul><ul><li>"Women in Health Sciences." Bernard Becker Medical Library. 2004. Washington University in St.Louis. 18 Mar. 2009. </li></ul>