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Pioneer of Gene Targeting Talks March 15 at Appalachian

022505gene_dl.jpgBOONE – Appalachian State University’s Morgan Lecture Series features a lecture by Dr. Mario Capecchi of the University of Utah on “Gene Targeting into the 21st Century.” His presentation is Tuesday, March 15, at 8 p.m. in I.G. Greer Auditorium. Admission is free.

Since 1990, the privately funded Morgan Lecture Series has brought renowned speakers in the sciences to campus. The series is sponsored by Appalachian’s College of Arts and Sciences.

For more information, call Dr. Ray Williams in the Department of Biology at (828) 262-6511.

Capecchi is a distinguished professor of human genetics at the University of Utah, and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He is credited with developing the technology known as gene targeting that allows scientists to manipulate the genetic material of mice and create conditions such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and high blood pressure. This technology has helped revolutionize the study of human disease.

” Gene targeting allows us to genetically dissect the most complex biological problems to create animals that carry specific genetic alterations so that we can recreate the underlying cause of a specific disease or study the function of a particular gene of interest,” Capecchi explained in a news release from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Capecchi came to the United States at age 9 from Italy after World War II. His mother had been imprisoned by the Nazis in the Dachau concentration camp, forcing him to survive on the streets. Because he spoke no English, could not write or do math, his U.S. school teachers told Capecchi that he would never go to college. By age 30, Capecchi had earned a Ph.D.

In an interview with Nature magazine, Capecchi said that he talks about his troubled beginnings to encourage others not to people’s potential. “My message is that anyone in any circumstances can make it,” he says.

Capecchi received a B.S. in chemistry and physics from Antioch College in 1961 and a doctoral degree in biophysics at Harvard University, where he studied under Nobel laureates James D. Watson, co-discoverer of the DNA double helix, and Walter Gilbert, contributor concerning the determinations of base sequences in nucleic acids. Capecchi’s honors include the Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for distinguished achievement in neuroscience and the 1996 Kyoto Prize.