Born: 22 April 1909, Turin, Italy
Died: 30 December 2012, Rome, Italy
Affiliation at the time of the award: Institute of Cell Biology of the C.N.R., Rome, Italy
Prize motivation: "for their discoveries of growth factors"
Field: biochemistry, cell physiology
Prize share: 1/2
Human beings develop from a single cell that divides to form new cells. These new cells then also further divide and multiply. Little by little, different types of cells with different functions are formed. Rita Levi-Montalcini has contributed to our knowledge of how this process works. In 1952 she succeeded in isolating a substance harvested from tumors in mice that caused vigorous nervous system growth in chicken embryos. The discovery of what are now known as growth factors has provided a deeper understanding of medical problems like deformities, senile dementia, delayed wound healing, and tumor diseases.
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