Jump to content

Mario Capecchi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Mario Capecchi
Capecchi at a conference in 2013
Mario Ramberg Capecchi

(1937-10-06) October 6, 1937 (age 86)
Verona, Italy
NationalityItalian, American
Alma materAntioch College
Harvard University
Known forHox genes in knockout mice
AwardsKyoto Prize (1996)
Franklin Medal (1997)
Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research (2001)
Massry Prize (2002)
Wolf Prize in Medicine (2002)
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (2007)
Scientific career
InstitutionsHarvard Medical School
University of Utah
ThesisOn the Mechanism of Suppression and Polypeptide Chain Initiation (1967)
Doctoral advisorJames D. Watson

Mario Ramberg Capecchi (born 6 October 1937) is an Italian-born molecular geneticist and a co-awardee of the 2007 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering a method to create mice in which a specific gene is turned off, known as knockout mice.[1][2][3][4][5][6] He shared the prize with Martin Evans and Oliver Smithies.[7] He is currently Distinguished Professor of Human Genetics and Biology at the University of Utah School of Medicine.[8][9][10][11][12]


Mario Capecchi was born in Verona, Italy, as the only child of Luciano Capecchi and Lucy Ramberg, an Italian-born[13] daughter of American-born Impressionist painter Lucy Dodd Ramberg and German archaeologist Walter Ramberg. His parents weren't married, and due to the chaos in Europe caused by World War II, the story of his early life is remarkable, but the details are unclear. In 1941 he and his mother were living near Bolzano, about 160 miles north of his father in Reggio Emilia when his mother was arrested and deported for pamphleteering and belonging to an anti-Fascist group.[14] Prior to her arrest[15] she had made contingency plans by selling her belongings and giving the proceeds to a nearby peasant family to care for her child. However, it was not long before Mario ended up on the streets of Bolzano.[16][17] In July 1942, a few months before his fifth birthday, Italian records suggest he was reunited with his father in Reggio Emilia, which Mario did confirm but stated that he stayed with his father for only for a few brief periods [18] and that he mostly lived on the streets until he was placed in an orphanage towards the end of the war.

Mario almost died of malnutrition. His mother survived the war in Germany (part of the reason the details of his early life are unclear is that she would never talk about her experiences), and when it ended she began a year-long search for him. She finally found him on his ninth birthday in a hospital bed in Reggio Emilia ill with a fever and subsisting on a daily bowl of chicory coffee and bread crust. She took him to Rome, where he had his first bath since he had left her care and where, with money sent by his uncle, Edward Ramberg, an American physicist at RCA, they made arrangements to depart to the United States. He and his mother moved to Pennsylvania to live at an "intentionally cooperative community" called Bryn Gweled,[19] which had been co-founded by his uncle. (Capecchi's other maternal uncle, Walter Ramberg, was also a prominent American physicist[20]). He graduated from George School, a Quaker boarding school in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, in 1956.[15]

Capecchi received his Bachelor of Science in chemistry and physics in 1961 from Antioch College in Ohio. Capecchi came to MIT as a graduate student intending to study physics and mathematics,[21] but during the course of his studies, he became interested in molecular biology. His change of interest was driven by the preference of working with few scientists and conducting experiments that did not require the use of big machines. He subsequently transferred to Harvard to join the lab of James D. Watson, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA.[22] Capecchi received his PhD in biophysics in 1967[23] from Harvard University, with his doctoral thesis completed under the tutelage of Watson.

Capecchi was a Junior Fellow of the Society of Fellows at Harvard University from 1967 to 1969. In 1969 he became an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry at Harvard Medical School. He was promoted to associate professor in 1971. In 1973 he joined the faculty at the University of Utah. Since 1988 Capecchi has also been an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He has given a talk for Duke University's Program in Genetics and Genomics as part of their Distinguished Lecturer Series.[24] He was the speaker for the 2010 Racker Lectures in Biology & Medicine and Cornell Distinguished Lecture in Cell and Molecular Biology at Cornell University.[25] He is a member of the Italy-USA Foundation.

After the Nobel committee publicly announced that Capecchi was awarded the Nobel prize, an Austrian woman named Marlene Bonelli claimed that Capecchi was her long-lost half-brother.[26] In May 2008, Capecchi met with Bonelli, then 69, in northern Italy, and confirmed that she was his sister.[27]

Knockout mice[edit]

Capecchi was awarded the Nobel prize for creating a knockout mouse. This is a mouse, created by genetic engineering and in vitro fertilization, in which a particular gene has been turned off.[28] For this work, Capecchi was awarded the 2007 Nobel prize for medicine or physiology, along with Martin Evans and Oliver Smithies, who also contributed.

Capecchi has also pursued a systematic analysis of the mouse Hox gene family. This gene family plays a key role in the control of embryonic development in all multicellular animals. They determine the placement of cellular development in the proper order along the axis of the body from head to toe.



  1. ^ Skipper, Magda (2005). "An Interview With Mario Capecchi". Nature Reviews Genetics. 6 (6): 434. doi:10.1038/nrg1647. ISSN 1471-0056. PMID 15934189. S2CID 31781543.
  2. ^ Thomas, K. R.; Capecchi, M. R. (1987). "Site-directed mutagenesis by gene targeting in mouse embryo-derived stem cells". Cell. 51 (3): 503–512. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(87)90646-5. PMID 2822260. S2CID 31961262.
  3. ^ Mansour, S. L.; Thomas, K. R.; Capecchi, M. R. (1988). "Disruption of the proto-oncogene int-2 in mouse embryo-derived stem cells: A general strategy for targeting mutations to non-selectable genes". Nature. 336 (6197): 348–352. Bibcode:1988Natur.336..348M. doi:10.1038/336348a0. PMID 3194019. S2CID 2997260.
  4. ^ Capecchi, M. R. (1980). "High efficiency transformation by direct microinjection of DNA into cultured mammalian cells". Cell. 22 (2 Pt 2): 479–488. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(80)90358-x. PMID 6256082. S2CID 2189404.
  5. ^ Chisaka, O.; Capecchi, M. R. (1991). "Regionally restricted developmental defects resulting from targeted disruption of the mouse homeobox gene hox-1.5". Nature. 350 (6318): 473–479. Bibcode:1991Natur.350..473C. doi:10.1038/350473a0. PMID 1673020. S2CID 972118.
  6. ^ Thomas, K. R.; Folger, K. R.; Capecchi, M. R. (1986). "High frequency targeting of genes to specific sites in the mammalian genome". Cell. 44 (3): 419–428. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(86)90463-0. PMID 3002636. S2CID 30570106.
  7. ^ a b "The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2007". Nobelprize.org. Retrieved 2007-10-08.
  8. ^ Mario Capecchi publications indexed by Microsoft Academic
  9. ^ Kain, K. (2008). "The first transgenic mice: An interview with Mario Capecchi". Disease Models and Mechanisms. 1 (4–5): 197–201. doi:10.1242/dmm.001966. PMC 2590805. PMID 19093023.
  10. ^ Cohen-Tannoudji, M. (2007). "Prix Nobel de Médecine 2007". Médecine/Sciences. 23 (12): 1159–1161. doi:10.1051/medsci/200723121159. PMID 18154719.
  11. ^ Capecchi, M. (2005). "An Interview with". Nature Reviews Genetics. 6 (6): 434. doi:10.1038/nrg1647. PMID 15934189. S2CID 31781543.
  12. ^ Dennis, C. (2004). "Mario Capecchi: From rags to research". Nature. 430 (6995): 10–11. Bibcode:2004Natur.430...10D. doi:10.1038/430010a. PMID 15229575. S2CID 4347862.
  13. ^ Lois M. Collins (2007-10-08). "U. scientist Capecchi wins Nobel Prize". Deseret Morning News.
  14. ^ Troy Goodman (2001-09-16). "U. scientist Mario Cappechi scores a 'knockout'". Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 2007-10-08.
  15. ^ a b Susan Sample (2007). "Scientist Profile: Mario Capecchi". University of Utah. Archived from the original on 2007-10-11.
  16. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2007". NobelPrize.org. Retrieved 20 February 2022.
  17. ^ Hont G (December 2007). "Från gatubarn till Nobelpristagare. Mario Capecchis liv--en askungesaga" [From street child to Nobel Prize winner. Mario Capecchi's life--a Cinderella story]. Läkartidningen (in Swedish). 104 (51–52): 3905–3907. PMID 18232538.
  18. ^ "Nobelist's tales of wartime have inconsistencies". Deseret News. Associated Press. 6 November 2007. Retrieved 20 February 2022.
  19. ^ American Philosophical Society. "Edward G. Ramberg Papers". American Philosophical Society.
  20. ^ "Obituaries". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2022-06-11.
  21. ^ Andrew Gumbel (2007-10-09). "Mario Capecchi: The man who changed our world". Belfast Telegraph.
  22. ^ Arkajit Dey (2007-10-16). "Two Nobel Prize Winners MIT-Affiliated". The Tech.
  23. ^ Capecchi, Mario (1967). On the Mechanism of Suppression and Polypeptide Chain Initiation (PhD thesis). Harvard University. ProQuest 302261581.
  24. ^ "Distinguished Lecture Series". Duke University. Archived from the original on 2007-09-08.
  25. ^ "MBG Annual Racker Lecture". Cornell University.
  26. ^ Peter Popham (2007-10-18). "Reunion beckons for Nobel winner and his long lost step-sister". Belfast Telegraph.
  27. ^ "'Looking at the pictures, it was obviously my sister,' Capecchi said, noting her resemblance to their mother.""Nobel Winner Reunited With Sister Lost in WWII". ABC News. Associated Press. 2008-06-06.
  28. ^ University of Utah, Transgenic Mice
  29. ^ "2001 Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research". Lasker Foundation. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2007-10-01.
  30. ^ "The President's National Medal of Science: Recipient Details | NSF - National Science Foundation". www.nsf.gov.
  31. ^ "Past Winners". www.brandeis.edu.
  32. ^ "UCSF Medal". Office of the Chancellor. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
  33. ^ "Program and Abstracts of the 14th Transgenic Technology Meeting (TT2017): Snowbird Resort, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, 1–4 October 2017". Transgenic Research. 26 (S1): 1–45. 2017-09-01. doi:10.1007/s11248-017-0033-2. ISSN 0962-8819. PMID 28864935. S2CID 32962450.
  34. ^ "Yale awards nine honorary degrees". YaleNews. 2024-05-20. Retrieved 2024-05-21.

External links[edit]