According to the latest issue of Nature, Rita Levi-Montalcini, an Italian neurochemist, has reached the age of 100 — the first Nobel Laureate to ever become a centenarian. Surprisingly, Nature doesn’t mention what she got the Nobel Prize for. In 1986, she and Stanley Cohen were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology for their work on factors that promote the growth of nerves; this work was done at Washington University in St. Louis. She is one of the many foreign academics who enriched the United States when they fled from fascism before World War II (she comes from a Jewish family; her Nobel autobiography is here). In the comments to the Nature piece, one person notes:
. . .she attributes both her longevity and acute mental abilities, at the age of 100, to regular doses of this supplement [see first comment below], which she has been taking for several decades. She claims in fact that her mental capacity now is greater than when she was 20 (and she is still doing brain research).
Just as an interesting fact — no aspersion on Dr. Levi-Montalcini — at least one Nobel Prize was awarded for work that was later found to be dubious and unrepeatable. This was the 1926 Medicine and Physiology prize to Johannes Fibiger for claiming that a nematode worm could cause cancer.
Rita Levi-Montalcini at her birthday fete