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“She now continues to work as a senator for life and last month harshly criticized Mario Monti’s government of technocrats for abolishing the peer review mechanism in funding policies to researchers.”

That was just a few months ago; and now Rita Levi Montalcini has died, age 103.

She won a 1986 Nobel for her work in nerve growth factor; a few years later, she started a foundation for the scientific education of African women. Well into her hundreds, she spent part of each day at the lab, and part at the foundation.

An atheist, she said the reason she lived so long was selflessness – she never cared or thought much about herself, but spent her energy on scientific and social problems that engrossed her. Pesky obstacles like a sexist father, fascism, anti-semitism, and a whole lot more sexism, were ignored, or somehow gotten around.

Margaret Soltan, December 30, 2012 6:12PM
Posted in: heroines

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