Mario R. Capecchi, PhD, Recognized With AACR Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research Award

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Mario R. Capecchi, PhD

Mario R. Capecchi, PhD, was honored for his tremendous scientific contributions, which have had a profound impact on the understanding of cancer, with the 12th annual American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research at the AACR Annual Meeting 2015.

The AACR established the Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research to honor an individual who has made significant contributions to cancer research, either through a single scientific discovery or a body of work.

Dr. Capecchi is the Distinguished Professor of Biology and Human Genetics at the University of Utah School of Medicine, an Investigator with Huntsman Cancer Institute, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, and a fellow of the AACR Academy. His pioneering work in the development of gene targeting technology in the mouse has led to a revolution in our ability to study the function of cancer genes, as well as the mechanisms of cancer development.

Contributions to Research

A leader in the field of molecular genetics, Dr. Capecchi is best known for his pivotal role in the creation of gene-targeting technology, sometimes referred to as knockout technology. By manipulating specific genes within mouse-derived embryonic stem cells, he discovered how to genetically engineer a mouse devoid of a specific gene. This technology has spurred studies whereby researchers can analyze the specific function of a particular gene by investigating the biological repercussions of its absence. It has also proven to be a vital asset in the analysis of genetic mutations common in cancer patients. His work in this area was recognized in 2007 with the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Dr. Capecchi has also been involved in pioneering studies involving the Hox gene family. His studies of these genes have offered unique insights into the genetics of development within various organ systems, primarily the brain.

“Dr. Capecchi is a world-renowned scientist and Nobel laureate, and we are delighted to recognize his remarkable contributions to biomedical research and the field of cancer research through this award,” said Margaret Foti, PhD, MD, Chief Executive Officer of the AACR. “Gene targeting has been used in the study of numerous diseases, including cancer, and will be central to many future lifesaving advances.”

“It is a great honor to be recognized by the AACR for lifetime achievements in cancer research, an institution that has done so much to advance cancer research,” Dr. Capecchi said.

He is also an Elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

A native of Verona, Italy, Dr. Capecchi graduated from Antioch College, and received his doctorate from Harvard University. He has been at the University of Utah since 1973, beginning his tenure as a Professor of Biology. ■