Smithies, Oliver

Smithies, Oliver, 1925–2017, American geneticist, b. Halifax, England, Ph.D., Oxford, 1951. Smithies was on the faculty at the Univ. of Toronto (1953–60) and Univ. of Wisconsin–Madison (1960–88) before becoming a professor at the Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. With Sir Martin Evans and Mario Capecchi, he was awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine, which recognized their contributions to the development of gene targeting, a technique that enables individual genes to be “knocked out” of mice DNA and replaced with others, creating designer mice that could be used to understand the function of genes or to study the genetic causes of diseases. Smithies went on to use gene targeting to investigate inherited diseases such as cystic fibrosis and hypertension. He also developed gel electrophoresis that used a gel derived from potato starch.

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