Rita Levi-Montalcini 1909-2012

In 2001 Rita Levi-Montalcini presented at the Ambrosetti Forum, held in Cernobbio (Italy), the opportunity for Italy to create an International research institute dedicated entirely to brain research.

The proposal received an enthusiastic response and in 2002 the European Brain Research Institute (EBRI) was established.

EBRI is dedicated to promoting Levi-Montalcini’s vision of a research institute of scientific excellence in brain research that would attracts foreign scientists to Italy, as well as offer Italian neuroscientists, working in prestigious foreign institutes, an opportunity to return home.


In prais of imperfection

Rita Levi-Montalcini dedicated her life to science and humanity. The following text, taken from her autobiography “In Praise of Imperfection", testifies to her exemplary modus operandi in life. We hope it will serve as an inspiration to all.

“The absence of complexes, a remarkable tenacity in following the path I believe to be right, and a way of underestimating the obstacles standing between me and what I want to accomplish – a trait I believe I inherited from my father – have helped me  enormously in facing the difficult years of life.

To him as to my mother, I owe a tendency to look on others with sympathy and without animosity and to see things and people in a favourable light. ...Looking back now on the long path my life has followed, on the lives of my peers and colleagues, and on the briefer ones of the young recruits who have worked with us, I have become persuaded that, in scientific research, neither the degree of one’s intelligence nor the ability to carry out one’s tasks with thoroughness and precision are factors essential to personal success and fulfilment.

More important for the attaining of both ends are total dedication and a tendency to underestimate difficulties, which cause one to tackle problems that other, more critical and acute persons instead opt to avoid. ...I have tried – as will be clear from a reading of this sort of balance-sheet or final account of my life – to reconcile two aspirations that the Irish poet William Butler Yeats deemed to be irreconcilable: perfection of the life and perfection of the work. By so doing, and in accordance with his predictions, I have achieved what might be termed “imperfection of the life and of the work”.

The fact that the activities that I have carried out in such imperfect ways have been and still are for me a source of inexhaustible joy, leads me to believe that imperfection, rather than perfection, in the execution of our assigned or elected tasks is more in keeping with human nature”.