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Mario Capecchi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mario Capecchi

Born October 6, 1937 (age 72)

Verona, Italy

Nationality United States

Fields Genetics

Institutions Harvard School of Medicine

University of Utah

Alma mater George School

Antioch College, Ohio
Harvard University

Known for Knockout mouse

Notable awards Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research (2001)
Wolf Prize in Medicine (2002)
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine(2007)

Mario Renato Capecchi (born 6 October 1937) is an Italian-born American moleculargeneticist and a co-
winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering a method for introducing homologous
recombination in mice employingembryonic stem cells, with Martin Evans and Oliver Smithies.[1] He is currently
Distinguished Professor of Human Genetics and Biology at the University of Utah School of Medicine, which he
joined in 1973.


Mario Capecchi was born in the Italian city of Verona as the only child of Luciano Capecchi, an Italian airman
who would be later reported as missing in action while manning an anti-aircraft gun in the Western Desert
Campaign,[2] and Lucy Ramberg, an American-born[3] daughter of Impressionist painter Lucy Dodd
Ramberg and German archaeologist Walter Ramberg. During World War II, his mother was sent to the Dachau
concentration camp[3] as punishment for pamphleteering and belonging to an anti-Fascistgroup.[4] Prior to her
arrest[5] she had made contingency plans by selling her belongings and giving the proceeds to a peasant family
near Bolzano[2] to provide housing for her only child. However, after one year,[6] the money was exhausted and
the family was unable to care for him. At four-and-a-half years old he was left to fend for himself on the streets
of northern Italy for the next four years,[2] living in various orphanages and roving through towns with groups of
other homeless children.[6]

He almost died of malnutrition. His mother, meanwhile, had been freed from Dachau and began a year-long
search for him. She finally found him in a hospital bed in Reggio Emilia,[2] ill with a fever and subsisting on a
daily bowl of chicory coffee and bread crust. She took him to Rome, where he had his first bath in six years.[6]

In 1946 his uncle, Edward Ramberg, an American physicist at RCA, sent his mother money to return to the
United States. He and his mother moved to Pennsylvania to live at an intentional cooperative community
called Bryn Gweled,[7] which had been co-founded by his uncle. (Capecchi's other maternal uncle, Walter
Ramberg, was also an American physicist who served as the tenth president of the Society for Experimental
Stress Analysis.[8]) He graduated from George School, a Quaker boarding school in Bucks County,
Pennsylvania, in 1956.[5]

Mario Capecchi received his Bachelor of Science in chemistry and physics in 1961 from Antioch
College in Ohio. Capecchi came to MIT as a graduate student intending to study physics and mathematics,
but during the course of his studies, he became interested in molecular biology. He subsequently transferred
to Harvard to join the lab of James D. Watson, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA.[10] Capecchi received
his Ph.D. in biophysics in 1967 from Harvard University, with his doctoral thesis completed under the tutelage
of Watson.

Capecchi was a Junior Fellow of the Society of Fellows at Harvard University from 1967 to 1969. In 1969 he
became an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at Harvard Medical School. He was
promoted to Associate Professor in 1971. In 1973 he joined the faculty at the University of Utah. Since 1988
Capecchi has also been an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He is a member of theNational
Academy of Sciences. He has given a talk for Duke University's Program in Genetics and Genomics as part of
their Distinguished Lecturer Series.[11]

After the Nobel committee publicly announced that Capecchi had won the Nobel prize, an Austrian woman
named Marlene Bonelli claimed that Capecchi was her long-lost half-brother.[12] In May 2008, Capecchi met
with Bonelli, 69, in northern Italy, and confirmed that she was his sister. [13]

[edit]Knockout mice
Capecchi is particularly well known for his pioneering work in gene targeting of the mouse embryo-derived stem
cells, working on theknockout mice(a genetically engineered mouse in which one or more genes have been
turned off through a targeted mutation). This work was accomplished together with the efforts of Martin
Evans and Oliver Smithies, and recognized in the 2007 Nobel prize for medicine or physiology.[5]

Capecchi has also pursued a systematic analysis of the mouse Hox gene family. This gene family plays a key
role in the control ofembryonic development in all multicellular animals.


 1992 - Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Neuroscience Research

 1993 - Gairdner Foundation International Award for Achievements in Medical Sciences

 1993 - Gairdner Foundation International Award

 1994 - General Motors Cancer Reseearch Foundation Alfred P. Sloan Jr. Prize

 1996 - Kyoto Prize in Basic Sciences

 1996 - German Molecular Bioanalytics Prize

 1997 - Franklin Medal for Advancing Our Knowledge of the Physical Sciences

 1998 - Feodor Lynen Lectureship

 1998 - Rosenblatt Prize for Excellence

 1998 - Baxter Award for Distinguished Research in the Biomedical Sciences

 1999 - Helen Lowe Bamberger Colby and John E. Bamberger Presidential Endowed Chair in the
University of Utah Health Sciences Center

 2000 - Lectureship in the Life Sciences for the Collège de France

 2000 - Horace Mann Distinguished Alumni Award, Antioch College

 2000 - Italian Premio Phoenix-Anni Verdi for Genetics Research Award

 2001 - Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research, co-winner with Martin Evans and Oliver

 2001 - Spanish Jiménez-Diáz Prize

 2001 - Pioneers of Progress Award

 2001 - National Medal of Science[15]

 2002 - John Scott Medal Award

 2002 - Massry Prize

 2003 - Pezcoller Foundation-AACR International Award for Cancer Research

 2002/3 - Wolf Prize in Medicine

 2005 - March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology

 2007 - Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, co-winner with Martin Evans and Oliver Smithies[1]