Rita Levi-Montalcini and a twin sister were born in Turin to a cultured Italian Jewish family. She graduated from the University of Turin School of Medicine in 1936, and enrolled in a three-year specialization course in neurology and psychiatry. However, the Fascist government barred Jews from higher education and academia. Dr. Levi-Montalcini's family fled Turin during World War II and survived in the countryside and in Florence. She set up a small laboratory in a farmhouse to carry on her research. At the end of the war, she served as a doctor for refugees before resuming her studies. In 1947, she was invited to join a colleague for research work at the University of Washington in St. Louis, where she planned to stay for a short time but remained for 30 years. She was appointed a full professor in 1958. In 1962, she established a research unit in Rome, dividing her time between the two labs. In 1986, she and Stanley Cohen shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine as well as the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research for their discovery of nerve growth factor. She published her autobiography, In Praise of Imperfection: My Life and Work, in 1988.