Nobel Laureate Mario Capecchi, Ph.D., to visit April 23
By Will Sansom, 210-567-2579
Nobel Laureate Mario R. Capecchi, Ph.D., will give a presentation on gene targeting at the UT Health Science Center San Antonio on Tuesday, April 23.
The presentation, from 3:30 to 5 p.m., will take place at the university’s Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies, located at the Texas Research Park, in the AT&T Teleconference Center, Room 1.130.
Dr. Capecchi’s visit is part of the Arlan Richardson Student Research Symposium and is open to the public.
Poster presentation features student research
A poster session featuring student research — also open to the public — will precede the presentation from 1 to 3 p.m., in the courtyard and student lounge at the Barshop Institute.
The topic of the presentation is “Gene Targeting into the 21st Century: Mouse Models of Human Diseases from Cancer to Neuropsychiatric Disorders.”
Dr. Capecchi is an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He also is a professor of human genetics, a distinguished professor of human genetics and biology, and co-chair of the Department of Human Genetics at the University of Utah School of Medicine.
Gene targeting revolutionizes research
“Dr. Capecchi is known for his groundbreaking work in gene targeting,” said Randy Strong, Ph.D., interim director of the Barshop Institute and professor of pharmacology. “His research has had a tremendous impact on the way we study various diseases and allows us to gain a much better understanding of how diseases work and how to possibly cure them before they are studied in humans.
The Nobel Laureate’s work in this area began in the 1980s with Drs. Oliver Smithies and Martin J. Evans. Their discoveries made it possible to manipulate the genomes of mice to create mutations of any gene. Researchers can now create sophisticated pre-clinical models of cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cystic fibrosis and other illness to study prevention and treatment strategies before they are studied in humans. Their discoveries were acknowledged in 2007 with the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine,
“We chose to invite Dr. Capecchi because of the immensity of his pioneering work in the development of gene targeting in mice, which allowed scientists to create mice with mutations in any desired gene. Other than this enormous contribution to science, Dr. Capecchi is very student-friendly and enjoys interacting with students,” explained Samantha Rendón, one of three students on the Biology of Aging Conference Student Committee which is organizing the conference. The other students on the committee are Daniel Pulliam and Danielle Victor.
Dr. Capecchi previously spoke at the UT Health Science Center in 2008.
His life is one of achievement over tremendous odds. After surviving World War II as a child, wandering the streets and separated from his family, Dr. Capecchi later was reunited with his mother. The two emigrated to the United States where Dr. Capecchi later earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and physics from Antioch College in 1961 and his doctorate in biophysics from Harvard University in 1967. After graduation, he was a faculty member at Harvard Medical School before joining the University of Utah.
Dr. Capecchi is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the European Academy of Sciences. He has received numerous prestigious scientific awards and is the author of more than 200 peer-reviewed publications.
Transportation to the Texas Research Park
A shuttle bus will be available for Health Science Center faculty, staff and students who wish to attend the lecture. The bus will leave at 2 p.m. from the circle drive in front of the Academic and Administration Building on the Long Campus. Following the lecture, the shuttle will leave the Texas Research Park at 5:15 p.m. and drop off riders at the same location on the Long Campus.
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