Wolf Prize Laureate in Medicine 2002/3
Affiliation at the time of the award:
University of North Carolina, USA
“for the development of procedures to manipulate mouse ova and embryos, which has enabled transgenesis and its applications in mice”.
Mario R. Capecchi and Oliver Smithies developed the use of homologous recombination for the targeted mutation of chosen genes in mammalian cells. Subsequent to spending years developing the approach, these two scientists independently demonstrated that their methods could be used to introduce mutations into multi-potential mouse embryonic stem cells. The technology they invented offers a means for creating strains of mice with mutations in virtually any gene. Such mutant mouse models have since been generated by countless groups worldwide, with the aim of studying gene functions in vivo and making animal models of human diseases, ranging from immunological, neurological, and cardiovascular diseases, to cancer.