Nobel laureate Rita Levi-Montalcini, who died today at the age of 103, was a Jew and a woman in a place and an era where it was difficult to be either. She received her Nobel prize for her discovery of nerve growth factor, much of the work on which she performed, in hiding, in the hills near Turin in Mussolini’s Italy. She obtained the chicken eggs she needed for her research by begging them from farmers, under the pretext of needing them to feed her children (which she didn’t have). In the years before her death, she remained active in many endeavors, including a foundation to mentor young people.
In honor of her passing, Scientific American is making this 1993 profile of her available for the next 30 days.