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By Lisa Yount

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Additional info for Rita Levi-Montalcini: Discoverer of nerve growth factor

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The group showed her their false ID cards and assured her that they were Catholic. In fact, the family learned later, their new landlady guessed almost immediately that they were Jewish but was willing to help them anyway. ” She had had to leave her microscope and carefully prepared tools behind when the family fled Turin. Instead, she and Paola spent their days making false identity cards to give to other refugees who reached Florence and to the partisans. Levi-Montalcini wrote that the cards probably would not have stood up to even a moderately careful inspection, but they were better than nothing, and they gave the family a way to help others as they had been helped.

Swearing such an oath went against his personal principles, but he knew that failing to do so risked his position at the university and, with it, his chances of continuing his research and teaching. He therefore reluctantly took the oath. Levi’s speeches against the Fascist regime may have endangered him, but, at first, the fact that he was Jewish apparently did not. Unlike the Nazi Party, which took control of Germany in 1933, Mussolini’s Fascists did not make anti-Semitism part of their official creed during their early years.

She had no idea that her “one-semester visit” would prove to last 30 years. A Semester’s Visit R 4 ita Levi-Montalcini did not travel to the United States alone. After returning to Turin, she had become reacquainted with Renato Dulbecco, whom she had known in medical school, and found that Dulbecco, like herself, felt at a loose end in his career. In spite of his medical degree, his real interest was in mathematics and physics. Levi-Montalcini told Dulbecco that Salvador Luria was working at the University of Indiana at Bloomington in the rapidly expanding field of genetics.

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