Rita Levi-Montalcini (1909-2012) was an Italian neurologist who in 1986 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of nerve growth factor (NGF). She also served as Senator for Life in the Italian Senate from 2001 until her death at 103.
She studied medicine at the University of Turin and remained there as an assistant after graduation, but lost her position when in 1938 Jews were barred from holding academic posts. Nevertheless she set up a laboratory in her bedroom, and the research conducted there set the basis for her groundbreaking discoveries. Over the years her work led to the creation of new anti-inflammatory drugs and a greater understanding of how cancer spreads and evolves.