NIGMS Grantees Win Nobel Prize for Gene Targeting


October 8, 2007

Statement from Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D., Director, National Institute of General Medical Sciences

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences congratulates two long-time grantees, Mario R. Capecchi, Ph.D., and Oliver Smithies, Ph.D., on their selection for the 2007 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. The Institute has provided nearly $20 million in funding to these scientists since 1968.

Sharing the prize with Capecchi and Smithies is Sir Martin J. Evans of the United Kingdom.

Working independently, Capecchi and Smithies created an elegant and powerful gene-targeting method in mice that has become an indispensable tool for biomedical research. 

The method enables scientists to create “transgenic” mice containing genes from other organisms. If the genes are involved in human diseases, the transgenic mice can serve as model organisms for studying those disorders. Researchers also can use the gene-targeting technique in mice to insert altered or defective genes that “knock out” the normal versions, revealing their roles.

Like the discovery of RNA interference, which was honored last year with a Nobel Prize, this work has dramatically reshaped the research landscape and underscores the power of basic research to stimulate progress in the treatment and cure of disease.

Capecchi is the distinguished professor of human genetics and biology at the University of Utah, and Smithies is the excellence professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

NIGMS began funding Capecchi in 1968 and Smithies in 1973. Both scientists have also received funding from other NIH components: Capecchi from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and Smithies from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, and the National Cancer Institute.

NIGMS is proud of its history of funding Nobel Prize-winning research. Since its creation in 1962, the Institute has supported 35 Nobel laureates in physiology or medicine and 29 Nobel laureates in chemistry.

More information about NIGMS support of Nobel Prize winners is available at

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To interview NIGMS Director Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D., about the 2007 Nobel Prizes, contact Emily Carlson or Ann Dieffenbach in the NIGMS Office of Communications and Public Liaison at 301-496-7301 or through our ​ contact form.