Italian Nobel scientist Rita Levi-Montalcini died Sunday at her home in Rome at the age of 103, according to a statement from Rome mayor Gianni Alemanno. Mr. Alemanno called her death a great loss "for all of humanity."
Rita Levi-Montalcini was known as Italy's "Lady of Cells," The Associated Press reports.
She won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1986 jointly with American biochemist Stanley Cohen for their discovery of nerve growth tissue (NGF), Reuters reports. NGF is a "protein that makes developing cells grow by stimulating nerve tissue."
Her study of cells also answered many questions and furthered understanding on many illnesses including cancer, BBC News reports.
Miss Levi-Montalcini was a Jew who lived through anti-Semitism and the Nazi invasion, The AP reports. In 2001, she was honored as an Italian "Senator-For-Life."
Her niece, Piera Levi-Montalcini, said her aunt continued her research everyday until her death, BBC News reports.
Two days after celebrating her 103rd birthday in April, she posted a note reminding people how important it was to never give up on life or "fall into mediocrity or and passive resignation," Reuters reports.
"I've lost a bit of sight and a lot of hearing. At conferences, I don't see the projections and I don't feel good. But I think more now than I did when I was 20. The body does what it wants. I am not the body, I am the mind," she wrote."