Mario R. Capecchi
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2007
Born: 6 October 1937, Verona, Italy
Affiliation at the time of the award: University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Howard Hughes Medical Institute, USA
Prize motivation: “for their discoveries of principles for introducing specific gene modifications in mice by the use of embryonic stem cells”
Prize share: 1/3
DNA carries organisms' genomes and also determines their vital processes. The ability to artificially alter DNA opens the way to both new scientific understanding and new treatment methods for various illnesses. In the early 1980s, Mario Capecchi discovered that sections of DNA that had been inserted into the cell nuclei of mammals could be incorporated into the cell's genome. In 1986, Capecchi and Oliver Smithies successfully achieved specific modifications in the genomes of mice. By inactivating specific genes, their functions could be determined.