Rita Levi-Montalcini: Lady of the Cells

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The Italian researcher faced prejudice and adversity as a woman and as a Jew, but went on to elucidate a growth factor essential to the survival of nerve cells

Her father objected to her going to college, since a job would interfere with being a wife and mother. But Levi-Montalcini had no intention of being either of those things, and every intention of being a doctor, so in 1936 she graduated from medical school. After Mussolini passed laws banning Jews from academic and professional careers, she set up a lab in her bedroom to study brain development in chicken embryos. Throughout World War II, she managed to maintain a supply chicken eggs by convincing farmers to sell them for the children she did not have. Dr. Levi-Montalcini did not let anything stop her.

(thanks to Elen for the suggestion!)

(featured image from this obituary)