Monday, October 08, 2007

Halifax's knockout Nobel

Congratulations to Oliver Smithies, joint winner of this year's Nobel Prize in medicine. Along with Mario Capecchi and Martin Evans, Smithies wins the prize for helping develop the 'knockout' technique for using embryonic stem cells in genetic modification - a technique that remains rather controversial in some areas.

Science and controversy aside, the (entirely parochial) interest here is that Smithies was born here in Halifax, and educated at the former Heath Grammar School just down the hill from me. That makes him, as far as I can tell, Halifax's first Nobel Laureate. Not the first for Calderdale though - Todmorden has John Cockcroft (Physics, 1951) and Geoffrey Wilkinson (Chemistry, 1973) to its credit. Not too bad for a small Pennine borough that doesn't even have a university.

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