The 2007 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine is shared by two long-time NIH grantees, Dr. Mario R. Capecchi of the University of Utah School of Medicine and Dr. Oliver Smithies of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The two researchers are honored, along with Sir Martin J. Evans of Cardiff University, for developing the powerful technology known as “gene targeting.”
Mice developed with this technology are used for a wide range of medical
research, from basic studies of biological processes to investigations of cancer, heart disease, cystic fibrosis and other conditions. The technique enables scientists to breed mice with specific diseases and use them to test new treatments.
“Capecchi, Smithies and Evans have produced powerful tools for biomedical
research that have had a profound impact on laboratories around the world,” said NIH director Dr. Elias Zerhouni. “These tools let us explore human and other genomes in new ways and deepen our understanding of health and disease.”
The National Institute of General Medical Sciences began supporting the work of Capecchi in 1968 and Smithies in 1973. Over the years, NIGMS has provided nearly $20 million to support the two scientists. In addition, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has provided more than $19 million to support research done by Smithies. He has also received support from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the National Cancer Institute. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has provided more than $5 million to support Capecchi’s research.
“This work has dramatically reshaped the research landscape and shows how basic research can stimulate progress in the treatment and cure of disease
through an understanding of fundamental biological processes,” noted NIGMS director Dr. Jeremy Berg.