There are very few proven theories that exist in biology. One that has stood the test of time is the neurotrophic theory. It explains why only half of the neurons produced early in development are needed to form a functional nervous system. The explanation came from the discovery of nerve growth factors (NGFs), which help nourish neurons, guide their axons to their proper connections, and prevent cell death. Rita Levi-Montalcini, who formulated this idea, celebrated her 100th birthday on April 22, 2009 in Rome. I had the opportunity to interview her at the European Brain Research Institute (EBRI) in September 2008, which forms the basis of this article. Shortly after the interview, Rita attended the International NGF meeting, held in the Upper Galilee region of Israel (Kfar Blum, Israel). Despite her age, she traveled to the meeting by flying to Tel Aviv and taking a 4-h car ride to the conference site. Remarkably, she participated in the meeting by giving a 30-min talk and sponsoring a poster (see ).

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