Year in review: Capecchi wins Nobel Prize

October 1

Mario Capecchi astounded the U by winning the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his development of the “knock-out” mice technology in genetically-altered animal models. Capecchi’s work, which involved more than 20 years of probing, allows researchers to study complex diseases from the beginning of their development. The animal models also give Capecchi and his research team a tool for studying how the brain develops from birth.

Stories of Capecchi’s traumatic youth, spent wandering alone in the streets of Italy, were often noted with his success. After being separated from his mother when he was 3 years old, Capecchi said he was forced to care for himself until the age of 9 when he was reunited with his mother. Capecchi grew up in the United States with Quaker relatives before going on to a prosperous career studying human genetics.

An Associated Press story later questioned details of Capecchi’s story when they researched his origins in Europe and found little evidence to back up his second-hand memories.

However, U administrators said allegations about his story do not diminish from Capecchi’s pioneering work in the field of human genetics.

“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,” Capecchi said in a statement. “The strong support and genuine interest of the university and Salt Lake City communities have been marvelous.”

[email protected]