Mario Capecchi

Mario Renato Capecchi ( born October 6, 1937 in Verona ) is an American geneticist Italian origin and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2007. He was honored together with Martin Evans and Oliver Smithies for research on the knockout mouse.

Childhood and youth

Mario Capecchis mother, Lucy Ramberg, was a poet who published her poems in German. His father, Luciano Capecchi, was an officer in the Italian Air Force. The parents were not married. His grandmother, Lucy Dodd, was an American from Oregon who lived as a painter in Florence and the German archaeologist Walter Ramberg married, who fell in the First World War. The mother had studied literature at the Sorbonne in Paris. Later, she joined a group of poets who were open in opposition to fascism and Nazism. In 1937 his mother came to Tyrol and lived in the village Wolfsgruben near Bolzano. When Mario was one and a half years in the spring of 1941, his mother was arrested by German officials. Mario assumed that she came to Dachau concentration camp, but what could not be confirmed by more recent studies.

He first lived in a Tyrolean peasant family. As there was not enough money to be care, he lived partly as a street boy in gangs and was deregistered on 18 July 1942 from his father to Reggio Emilia, 160 km south of Bolzano. He was temporarily in an orphanage and last in a hospital in Reggio Emilia with typhus and malnutrition. In the spring of 1945, the mother was released and looked for the boy she was exactly on his 9th birthday in 1946. Mario joined shortly thereafter with his mother's voyage to the United States, which had organized and paid for the uncle living there. From then on, he lived with his uncle and aunt, Edward and Sarah Ramberg, both Quakers, who belonged to a Quäkerkommune in Pennsylvania. His uncle was a physicist for quantum mechanics and significantly developed the television tubes. Immediately after his arrival in the Quaker community, he was inducted into the third class of a school, though he could not speak English. Of the relatives he was given every opportunity to develop his mind and his soul. Later he attended the George School, a high school in Philadelphia. He drove a lot of sports, especially football, baseball and wrestling.

Scientific career

After leaving school, he studied at Antioch College in Ohio in 1961 and received a bachelor's degree (BS ) in chemistry and physics. He then went to Harvard University and a Ph.D. in biophysics in 1967 under the guidance of James D. Watson, the discoverer of the double helix structure of deoxyribonucleic acid and Nobel Prize winner of 1962. Then until 1969 he was a Junior Fellow of the Society of Fellows at Harvard University. In the same year he became an assistant professor at the Department of Biochemistry, Medical Faculty of the University. In 1971 he was appointed extraordinary professor. Two years later he went to the University of Utah.

Together with Martin Evans and Oliver Smithies, he received the 2007 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for research on the knockout mouse.

Publications (selection)

  • Molecular genetics of early Drosophila and mouse development, published in 1989, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, ISBN 0-87969-339-8,
  • The role of FGF4 and FGF8 in posterior development of the mouse embryo, with Anne M. Boulet; Developmental biology, San Diego Academic Press, 2008
  • Evolution of the mammary gland from the innate immune system with Claudia and Josef M Penninger Vorbach, BioEssays

Awards (selection)