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A Nobelist comes home

The University of Wisconsin-Madison”s first annual Smithies Symposium took place on Thursday, May 29. Funded in part by Oliver Smithies’ Nobel Award prize money, the goal of this newly established symposium is to bring scientists of international renown to campus to interact with the scientific community here, particularly graduate students.

The inaugural event featured Leroy Hood, director of the Institute for Systems Biology, located in Seattle, as well as Smithies himself, now a professor at the University of North Carolina.

Hood’s talk spanned his entire career, starting with his early attempts to combine biology and engineering-efforts that eventually led to the development of a DNA sequencing machine-and ending with his vision for the type of “individualized medicine” we can expect to see in the near future. Smithies gave a slightly modified version of his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, which described the series of experiments that were essential in the development of a powerful technology known as gene targeting in mice, and comprise his Nobel Award-winning work.

Organizers estimate that more than 700 people attended the first Smithies Symposium. The crowd spilled out of the Microbial Science Building”s Ebling auditorium into two overflow rooms offering live video coverage.