Wed. Sep 18th, 2019

Nobel Prize-Winning Scientist Mario Capecchi, Speaking at DMC’s Student Research Day

Nobel Prize-Winning Scientist Mario Capecchi, Speaking Today at Del Mar College’s Student Research Day

Mario Capecchi, Ph.D., 2007 Nobel Prize-winning scientist and distinguished professor of human genetics and biology at the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City.

Each semester, Student Research Day is an exciting event for students in the Natural Sciences Department at Del Mar College (DMC) because it’s their opportunity to share the hands-on research they conducted through the College’s biology and biotechnology programs.

The event also serves to pique the interest of DMC’s future scientists in pursuing careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

Today, Student Research Day features keynote speaker Mario Capecchi, Ph.D., 2007 Nobel Prize-winning scientist and distinguished professor of human genetics and biology at the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City. 

The keynote address begins at 5 p.m., and Student Research Day follows from 6 to 8 p.m. in Wolfe Recital Hall in the Fine Arts Center Music Building on DMC’s East Campus at Ayers and Kosar. The FREE event is open to the public with light refreshments provided. For more information, contact John “Rob” Hatherill, Ph.D., at 698-1037 or jhatherill@delmar.edu.

“It’s important to encourage the next generation of researchers,” Capecchi said. “It’s my hope that they discover excitement in doing good science and the joy of pursuing basic research.”

As a scientist, Capecchi is best known for his pioneering work on the development of gene targeting in mouse embryo-derived stem (ES) cells. This technology allows scientists to create mice with mutations in any desired gene and giving power to choose which gene to mutate and how to mutate it. The investigator has virtually complete freedom on how to manipulate the DNA sequences in the genome of living mice, allowing scientists to evaluate in detail the function of any gene during the development or post-developmental phase of the mouse.

“This is the first time our department has hosted a Nobel laureate, so this is historic,” said Hatherill, DMC professor of biology. “Dr. Capecchi’s research has huge implications for human health and research. Gene targeting allows you to make animal models of human diseases such as HIV/AIDS. His talk will resonate for students that they shouldn’t limit their possibilities in life.”

Capecchi’s research interests include the molecular genetic analysis of early mouse development, neural development in mammals, production of murine models of human genetic diseases, gene therapy, homologous recombination and programmed genomic rearrangements in the mouse. 

He is co-winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for discovering a method to create mice in which a specific gene is turned off, known as knockout mice or a genetically modified mouse. He shares the prize with Martin Evans and Oliver Smithies, who also contributed.

Capecchi is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the European Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine. Since 1988, Capecchi has also been an investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

As an educator, Capecchi has lectured for Duke University’s Program in Genetics and Genomics as part of their Distinguished Lecturer Series. He was also the speaker for the 2010 Racker Lectures in Biology and Medicine and Cornell University’s Cornell Distinguished Lecture in Cell and Molecular Biology.

Originally from Verona, Italy, Capecchi received his bachelor of science degree in chemistry and physics from Antioch College in 1961 and his doctorate in biophysics from Harvard University in 1967. After six years on the Harvard School of Medicine faculty, he joined the University of Utah as a professor of biology in 1973.

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