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It's safe to say I won't be receiving the Nobel Prize in this lifetime.

Well - that's safe for most of us to say because the pinnacle of achievement for those in biomedical science is the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. It's been awarded since 1901 when Dr. Emil Adolf von Behring was awarded for his work on serum therapy against diphtheria.

In more recent times, it's become common to recognize multiple individuals making contributions to the same area. This year the prize went to Drs. Martin Evans, Mario Capecchi and Oliver Smithies.

Their work resulted in one of the greatest advances in biological science which is used by researchers daily. What Dr. Evans did was identify and isolate embryonic stem cells in mice, alter them genetically and then re-introduce them to study effects.

Dr. Capecchi and Smithies took this - one important step further. Each independently used genetic techniques to replace normal genes in mice with dysfunctional genes resulting in a "knock out" mutation. You may have heard of this as gene targeting.

Together these discoveries allow us the ability to delete or add genes of interest.

This way we can see the effects of single genes in growth and development and their role in disease.

To date, almost the genes in the mouse have been knocked out and their effects studied. The result is better understanding of diseases like cancer and development of novel treatments.

US biomedical scientists have been honored with the Nobel Prize more than any other country in the recent past. But considering the tenuous state of science and math programs in our schools along with inadequate funding for biomedical research, our national pride in receiving the lion's share of the Nobel's may begin to fade also.

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The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2007 - announcement of the winners for 2007 - "for their discoveries of principles for introducing specific gene modifications in mice by the use of embryonic stem cells"
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Alfred Nobel - The Man Behind the Nobel Prize "Since 1901, the Nobel Prize has been honoring men and women from all corners of the globe for outstanding achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and for work in peace. The foundations for the prize were laid in 1895 when Alfred Nobel wrote his last will, leaving much of his wealth to the establishment of the Nobel Prize.".
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Gene modification in mice "The 2007 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine is awarded to Drs Mario R. Capecchi, Martin J. Evans and Oliver Smithies for their discoveries of principles for introducing specific gene modifications in mice by the use of embryonic stem cells. Their work has made it possible to modify specific genes in the germline of mammals and to raise offspring that carry and express the modified gene."
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