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NIH Office of the Director (OD)

National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)

For Immediate Release
Monday, October 8, 2007

NIH News Media Branch

Press Statement from NIH Director Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D.
NIH Grantees Win 2007 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for Developing Techniques to Target Specific Genes in Mice

The 2007 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine is shared by two long-time NIH grantees, Mario R. Capecchi, Ph.D., of the University of Utah School of Medicine, and Oliver Smithies, Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The two researchers are honored, along with Sir Martin J. Evans, Ph.D., 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 Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D. "These tools let us explore human and other genomes in new ways and deepen our understanding of health and disease."

The NIH's National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) 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 NIH's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has provided more than $19 million to support the research of Dr. Smithies. He has also received support from the NIH's National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and NIH's National Cancer Institute. The National Institute of Child Health and Health Development has provided more than $5 million to support the research of Dr. Capecchi.

"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," added NIGMS Director Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D.

The Office of the Director, the central office at NIH, is responsible for setting policy for NIH, which includes 27 Institutes and Centers. This involves planning, managing, and coordinating the programs and activities of all NIH components. The Office of the Director also includes program offices which are responsible for stimulating specific areas of research throughout NIH. Additional information is available at http://www.nih.gov/icd/od/.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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