Student Research Day is held each semester at Del Mar College and, in addition to highlighting students’ research, the event serves to pique the interest of Del Mar College’s future scientists in pursuing careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
It is the first time the Natural Sciences Department has hosted a Nobel laureate. Capecchi, a distinguished professor of human genetics and biology at the University of Utah School of Medicine in Salt Lake City, 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 gives them 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.
“Dr. Capecchi’s research has huge implications for human health and research,” said John “Rob” Hatherill, Ph.D., DMC professor of biology. “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 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.
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.