Capecchi to deliver commencement speech

By By Rochelle McConkie

By Rochelle McConkie

U President Michael Young announced yesterday that recent Nobel Prize winner Mario Capecchi will give the commencement address for May 2008 graduates.

Administrators usually reveal the speaker in early spring, but Young’s assistant Laura Snow said they decided to make the announcement early because of the excitement surrounding the award.

“President Young wanted to announce it when we’re all still…riding the wave of Dr. Capecchi’s success and while he’s still on everyone’s minds,” Snow said.

Young told the news to the U Board of Trustees at its November meeting.

Capecchi received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on gene targeting or “knockout” technology in mice, which permits researchers to disable a gene in mice to determine mutations and learn about the function of the gene. He is professor of human genetics and biology at the U and co-chairs the department of human genetics at the Eccles Institute of Human Genetics.

Capecchi is the U’s first Nobel Prize Laureate.

“It seemed like a natural (thing) to ask him,” U spokeswoman Coralie Alder said. “We’re so proud of him.”

U Science News Specialist Lee Siegel said the timing of the announcement was not related to a story released by The Associated Press last week questioning Capecchi’s accounts of his early childhood.

“He was picked early because of the Nobel Prize and we didn’t want to sit on the news,” Siegel said.

Commencement is scheduled for 9 a.m. May 2, 2008, at the Huntsman Center. Capecchi has not released the topic of his speech.

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