ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – A Nobel Prize-winning neurobiologist will be enshrined in the St. Louis Walk of Fame in a ceremony Thursday morning in the Delmar Loop.
Rita Levi-Montalcini is credited with the discovery of “nerve growth factor,” through which the body uses to direct growth of nerve networks.
The St. Louis Walk of Fame celebrates people who have made a lasting national impact in the arts, science, politics, civil rights, sports and journalism. To be eligible for a star on the Walk of Fame, potential inductees must have either been born in St. Louis or accomplished significant achievements while living in the region.
Washington University has about 30 people on the St. Louis Walk of Fame who studied, taught, or conducted research at the university.
Levi-Montalcini was born in Turin, Italy in 1909. She graduated the University of Turin in 1936 but lost her academic research position in 1938 after Benito Mussolini enacted laws barring Jews from certain academic or professional careers.
Levi-Montalcini came to Washington University in 1946 for a semester-long research fellowship. That fellowship grew into a full-time job, and Levi-Montalcini spent the next three decades of her life researching cell growth.
In 1986, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine along with Stanley Cohen for their study on cellular growth. The following year, she earned the National Medal of Science, the nation’s highest scientific honor.
Levi-Montalcini died in her native Italy in 2012. She was 103.