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Nobel Prize for Medicine 2007

Professor Sir Martin Evans

Cardiff University Professor Sir Martin Evans FRS has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine, the most prestigious honour in world science.

The Nobel Assembly announced Professor Sir Martin as one of three winners for “a series of ground-breaking discoveries concerning embryonic stem cells and DNA recombination in mammals.”

Sir Martin was the first scientist to identify embryonic stem cells, which can be adapted for a wide variety of medical purposes. His discoveries are now being applied in virtually all areas of biomedicine – from basic research to the development of new therapies.

“I’m very pleased that British science is being honoured in this way. It is a boyhood dream come true,” said Sir Martin.

He shares the £755,000 prize with two other pioneers in the stem cell field, Professor Mario Capecchi of the University of Utah and Professor Oliver Smithies of the University of North Carolina. Their research has created the technology known as gene targeting, now used in virtually all areas of biomedicine – from basic research to the development of new therapies.

Gene targeting is often used to inactivate single genes. Experiments can then shed light on the role of the genes in development, aging and disease. The technique has already produced more than 500 different models of human disorders, including cardio-vascular diseases, diabetes and cancer.

Announcing the award, the Nobel Assembly said of the three men’s research: “Its impact on the understanding of gene function and its benefits to mankind will continue to increase over many years to come.”

One of the first people to congratulate Sir Martin was the Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University, Dr David Grant.  “The prize is tribute not just to the academic brilliance of Sir Martin’s discoveries but also to the wide-ranging benefits of his research,” he said.  The Prime Minister and the First Minister of the Welsh Assembly Government are among the many paying tribute to his achievement.

Sir Martin has been a key figure in establishing Cardiff University as a world-leading centre for biomedical research, listed in the world’s top 100, and the top ten in the UK, for biomedicine in the Times Higher Educational Supplement World University Rankings.