Capecchi wins Nobel Prize

U professor Mario Capecchi was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine Monday for his research in gene targeting.

Capecchi’s development of “knockout mice” technology — or the ability to alter specific genes in mice with embryonic stem cells — has allowed researchers to model hundreds of diseases, like cancer.

The Nobel Assembly in Stockholm, Sweden, announced Monday morning that Capecchi was selected for the coveted award. He will share the award with Martin Evans of Cardiff University in the United Kingdom and Oliver Smithies of University of North Carolina, who were recognized for research on the same topic.

“This is a tremendous honor for our University, for our Department of Human Genetics, and, specifically, for all the members of my laboratory, past and present who have contributed to this work,” said Capecchi in a statement. “The strong support and genuine interest of the University and Salt Lake City communities have been marvelous.”

Capecchi, who previously taught at Harvard University, said he came to the U in 1973 because he knew he could focus on ongoing research projects, rather than having to produce short-term results.

“I had to have a place where I could work on long term goals,” Capecchi said during a press conference.

U President Michael Young said Capecchi’s work in gene targeting has helped U researchers discover the genetic predispositions to more diseases than any other university in the world.

“His gene targeting truly has changed the course of medical research,” Young said.

Capecchi is a professor of human genetics and biology at the U’s Eccles Institute of Human Genetics and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

For more information, see the U’s website.

Courtesy U website