Italian neurologist Rita Levi-Montalcini – born on this day in 1909 – received the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine, along with Stanley Cohen, for their discovery that a protein called nerve growth factor plays a key role in the development of the nervous system. But particularly remarkable is how Levi-Montalcini managed to conduct her research at a time when Mussolini prevented non-Aryan Italian citizens from having academic careers. This impelled Levi-Montalcini to set up a laboratory in her bedroom at her family home in Turin. Following heavy bombing by English and American forces, she left Turin to rebuild her mini-laboratory in a cottage in the country. When the German army invaded Italy, she fled to Florence to work as a doctor for war refugees. After the war, she went to Washington University, St. Louis, USA, and remained there for thirty years. She died in December 2012 aged 103.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.