Professor Sir Martin Evans, Professor of Mammalian Genetics at the School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, has won the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine. The Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute, Sweden, announced this morning that Professor Sir Martin was one of three winners for “a series of ground-breaking discoveries concerning embryonic stem cells and DNA recombination in mammals.”
Professor 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. The work has already proved of great benefit in the study of cystic fibrosis.
He has been congratulated by the British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, who said: “This is a proud day for Sir Martin, for Cardiff University and for the country.”
The Nobel Assembly said of Professor Sir Martin’s work: “Its impact on the understanding of gene function and its benefits to mankind will continue to increase over many years to come.”
Professor Sir Martin shares the £755,000 prize with Professor Mario Capecchi of the University of Utah and Professor Oliver Smithies of the University of North Carolina.
He said: “I’m very pleased that British science is being honoured in this way. It is a pleasure and it is the highest honour in science. It is a boyhood dream come true.”
In a congratulatory message, Gordon Brown said: “I want to congratulate Professor Sir Martin Evans on this marvellous achievement. This is a proud day for Sir Martin, for Cardiff University and for the country.
“Last week, Lord Sainsbury, the Chancellor and I launched a new strategy to make Britain a world leader in science and technology. It is my hope that our budding young scientists will follow the lead of Sir Martin Evans and that the UK can produce many more Nobel Prize winners in the years ahead.”
The Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University, Dr David Grant, said: “Cardiff University is delighted to join the world-wide congratulations for Sir Martin Evans. The Nobel Prize is tribute not just to the academic brilliance of Sir Martin’s discoveries, once thought by many to be impossible, but also to the wide-ranging benefits of his research.
“As the Nobel Assembly correctly points out, the break-throughs by Sir Martin and his fellow Nobel laureates have generated an explosion of international research activity applying their techniques. Sir Martin himself has developed models for diseases such as human breast cancer, just one of the diseases where our understanding has been revolutionised, offering hope to millions of sufferers around the world.”
Professor John Harwood, Head of the School of Biosciences, said: “This is fantastic news and clearly is very well deserved. Martin’s research into stem cells and gene therapy is very important and offers also sorts of promise to medicine.
“This is also marvellous news for Cardiff University and Wales. Cardiff improves year on year and this is another accolade for the University. In science it doesn’t come any higher than the Nobel Prize.”
Professor Sir Martin has been a key figure in establishing Cardiff University as a world-leading centre for biomedical research. The University was listed in the world’s top 100, and the top ten in the UK, for biomedicine in last year’s Times Higher Educational Supplement World University Rankings.