Newly Translated Graphic Novel Tells the Life Story of Nobel Prize Winning Neuroscientist

Ali Chunovic
March 6, 2018
graphic novel panel

As a Jewish woman, Levi-Montalcini was not allowed to continue her work, so she practiced medicine and did research in secret. (written by Manfredi Toraldo, illustrated by Francesco Mobili)

“Life does not end with death. What you pass on to others remains. Immortality is not the body, which will one day die. That does not matter… of importance is the message you leave to others. That is immortality,” said founding European Dana Alliance for the Brain (EDAB) member Rita Levi-Montalcini, winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for the discovery of nerve growth factor.

Cover of graphic novelWhile Levi-Montalcini died in 2012, her legacy continues to live on through her contributions to neuroscience; the European Brain Research Institute (EBRI), which she founded in 2002; and now through a free graphic novel, “Rita Levi-Montalcini: A Pioneer in Neuroscience.” Produced by The Senato della Republica and EBRI, with support from EDAB, the graphic novel tells the story of how Levi-Montalcini overcame gender and religious discrimination in World War II Italy to become one of neuroscience’s most accomplished researchers.

While the graphic novel was designed with high school students in mind, Levi-Montalcini’s story is an inspiration to people of any age. Originally written in Italian and newly translated into English, the full novel is free to download in both languages on the Dana Foundation website. While we currently do not have printed copies available, we encourage you to print and share the PDF at your local office supply store.

As fellow EDAB member Elena Cattaneo said in her introduction, “Levi-Montalcini is a symbol of strength, determination, confidence and enthusiasm. She embodies all the values of science. Through her life story, you will be able to understand the challenges that scientists face every day and the courage that is needed to pursue and achieve your goals.” Here’s a short excerpt:

single panel from graphic novel panel from graphic novel of Rita working in her bedroom lab