United Nations mourns Levi-Montalcini

Dec. 31, 2012 at 3:06 PM

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- The head of the United Nations food agency has mourned the passing of renowned Italian scientist and physician Rita Levi Montalcini.

Montalcini, who won a Nobel Prize for her work on cell growth in the human nervous system and died Sunday at age 103 in Rome, also served as a goodwill ambassador for the world body.

"Professor Montalcini was recognized internationally as one of the world's finest minds," Jose Graziano da Silva, director general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, said Monday. "At FAO, we knew her as a wise and gracious friend, a tireless advocate for a hunger-free world."

A physician and neurobiologist, Montalcini won the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1986 and was named senator for life by Italian officials.

As an FAO goodwill ambassador, she wrote articles and editorials on the plight of the hungry and regularly attended and spoke at high-level FAO events.

"FAO will always be grateful to her for helping to keep the drive to end hunger, malnutrition and extreme poverty high on the international agenda," de Silva said in a release.

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