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Nobel Honors 3 Former March of Dimes Prize Recipients

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., Oct. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The March of Dimes congratulates Mario R. Capecchi, Ph.D., Sir Martin J. Evans, Ph.D., DSc., FRS, and Oliver Smithies, D.Phil., FRS, former recipients of the March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology, on sharing this year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

The Nobel Committee announced yesterday that the three have been honored "for their discoveries of principles for introducing specific gene modifications in mice by the use of embryonic stem cells." The three scientists are pioneers in gene targeting, which allows researchers to address the most complex and critical biological problems, including the causes and treatment of birth defects and many other disorders, such as cancer, diabetes, and atherosclerosis.

"Before gene targeting, researchers could not pinpoint how a specific gene worked, and that was very frustrating," said Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. "Dr. Capecchi, Sir Martin, and Dr. Smithies, working independently, made a technological breakthrough that completely revolutionized biomedical research and our ability to study human disease and development. We're reaping the benefits every day with advances in genetic medicine."

Dr. Capecchi, Distinguished Professor and Co-Chairman of the Department of Human Genetics, University of Utah School of Medicine, and Dr. Smithies, Excellence Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, shared the 2005 March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology. Sir Martin, former Director of the School of Biosciences and Professor of Mammalian Genetics of Cardiff University, was a co-recipient of the 1999 March of Dimes Prize.

The March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology has been awarded annually since 1996 to investigators whose research has profoundly advanced the science that underlies the understanding of birth defects.

Today's announcement brings to five the total number of March of Dimes Prize recipients who have gone on to win a Nobel Prize. The previous ones were Sydney Brenner, D.Phil., FRS, and H. Robert Horvitz, Ph.D., who shared the 2002 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

The March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For more information, visit or for Spanish.

SOURCE March of Dimes
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