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Experiences of the Nobel Prize Laureates in Physiology or Medicine
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17:14, December 07, 2007

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The Nobel Prize laureates in Physiology or Medicine in 2007 Mario R. Capecchi, Martin J. Evans and Oliver Smithies have shared their experiences on the road of science to success at a press conference which was held in Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.


From left to right,Oliver Smithies, Martin J. Evans and Mario R. Capecchi.


They share the prize for their discoveries of "principles for introducing specific gene modifications in mice by the use of embryonic stem cells".

At the press conference,the 70 year old Mario Capecchi who comes from University of Utah in the US began his remark with “I am a husband, a father and a scientist.”

He said he had always enjoyed the scientific research work as it is always changing.

The 66 year old Sir Martin Evans who has just retired from Cardiff University of UK said that he was brought up in London and educated in South London. Later he studied in Cambridge and has always been working in the UK. He has three children and also three grand children now.

“I like science, I had a wonderful time and open career in science”.
The 82 year old Oliver Smithies who is from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill USA said he is one of the twin brothers and ‘was born with a happy gene’.

“I have always enjoyed doing things. I went to a little village school which was not a very good one. My first experiment was to make a ‘telephone’ with the pig blader. But I didn’t know that it needed a stretched wire to make it work. So I made the telephone, but it didn’t work. But I thought it would work tomorrow. So I am very optimistic and as a scientist, you must be optimistic too because things often don’t work.” said Smithies humourously.

He said he is also a patient person which a scientist should be. After primary school, he went to one of the best grammar school and from then on he went on the scientific road and enjoyed the “gladly teach and gladly learn”experience.

His wife is also a scientist and the couple don’t have any children and they devote their life to science and laboratory work. His wife said their students are their children so they enjoy teaching and researching all their life.

Being asked whether the childhood experience can contribute to becoming a great scientist, Mario Capecchi said maybe childhood experience can help set up certain attitudes, such as being patient or pay attention to details. “It’s the details that make differences and you got to think a lot of details. The other is the imagination… Think about future, but not just today or tomorrow.”

On the question whether the Nobel Prize will change their lives, the laureates said they hope that will not change much of their lives and their way of doing science.

Science needs many people’s cooperation. This year’s Nobel Laureates emphasised cooperation a lot. When a student asked them how they cooperated in stead of putting each other down, Oliver Smithies told of their experience.

“We both came to the same conclusion within a couple of weeks. And Martin came directly from England to my laboratory and put the embyronic stem cells just in his pocket and then gave it to me. You can’t do much more than that in a collaboration……We don’t try to put each other down, we try to help each other, I think that’s what science is about.And my old professor has a marvelous saying—it is a life with a diversity of people living together in the closest proximity, a school for social living. We are members of one another.”

By Xuefei Chen People’s Daily Online Correspondent in Stockholm.



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