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Mario Capecchi
Mario R. Capecchi

UTSA launches President's Distinguished Lecture April 14

By Kris Rodriguez
Public Affairs Specialist

(April 9, 2008)--The University of Texas at San Antonio will host the recipient of the 2007 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, Mario R. Capecchi, Ph.D., as the inaugural speaker in the UTSA President's Distinguished Lecture Series at 6:30 p.m., Monday, April 14 in the Main Building Auditorium (0.104) on the 1604 Campus. The lecture is free and open to the public.

>> View a live feed of the presentation. (Viewable with free RealPlayer.)

Capecchi's presentation, "Gene Targeting in the 21st Century: Mouse Models of Human Disease from Cancer to Psychiatric Disorders," will focus on his development of a gene-targeting technique, altering genes in embryonic stem cells, that revolutionized the study of human disease by creating animal models for hundreds of diseases including cancer, heart disease, arthritis and Parkinson's disease.

"Part of our journey toward becoming a top-100 public research university will be sharing with the community opportunities to learn from premier researchers," said UTSA President Ricardo Romo. "Dr. Mario Capecchi is a leader in his field, a mentor to one of our own faculty members and a stellar example of the caliber of speakers we hope to attract as the lecture series continues."

Before joining UTSA in 2005, Gary Gaufo, UTSA assistant professor of biology, studied under Capecchi as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Utah's Howard Hughes Medical Institute. "The idea is to make this an academic and intellectually rich series," said Gaufo. "What better way to start than to bring in a Nobel laureate."

Capecchi received a doctoral degree in biophysics from Harvard University and a bachelor of science degree in chemistry and physics from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. While pursuing his education, Capecchi completed his thesis work under the guidance of Nobel laureate James D. Watson, who, along with Francis Crick, determined the structure of DNA. Capecchi currently serves as a distinguished professor of human genetics and biology at the University of Utah and is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

Born in 1937, Capecchi wandered the streets of Verona, Italy, for four years during World War II while his mother was imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp. After the war, they reunited and eventually moved to the United States.

Before leaving San Antonio, Capecchi also will lecture April 15 at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio.

For more information, contact Gary Gaufo at (210) 458-4471.

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The UTSA President's Distinguished Lecture Series will feature internationally recognized scholars engaged in traditional research and activities, as well as those whose contributions are in the creative fields of architecture, fine arts and music. The bi-annual series will feature external scholars in the spring and selected members of the UTSA community in the fall.

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