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Martin Evans

Date of birth : 1941-01-01
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Gloucestershire, England
Nationality : English
Category : Science and Technology
Last modified : 2011-12-21

Martin John Evans is a British scientist who, with Matthew Kaufman, was the first to culture mice embryonic stem cells and cultivate them in a laboratory in 1981.

He is also known, along with Mario Capecchi and Oliver Smithies, for his work in the development of the knockout mouse and the related technology of gene targeting, a method of using embryonic stem cells to create specific gene modifications in mice. In 2007, the three shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in recognition of their discovery and contribution to the efforts to develop new treatments for illnesses in humans.

He won a major scholarship to Christ's College, University of Cambridge at a time when advances in genetics were occurring there and became interested in biology and biochemistry. He then went to University College London where he learned laboratory skills under Dr Elizabeth Deuchar.

In 1978, he moved to the Department of Genetics, at the University of Cambridge, and in 1980 began his collaboration with Matthew Kaufman. They explored the method of using blastocysts for the isolation of embryonic stem cells. After Kaufman left, Evans continued his work, upgrading his laboratory skills to the newest technologies, isolated the embryonic stem cell of the early mouse embryo and established it in a cell culture.

He genetically modified and implanted it into adult female mice with the intent of creating genetically modified offspring, work for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize. Today, genetically modified mice are considered vital for medical research.

When Evans was a student in Cambridge he met his wife, Judith, at a lunch held by his aunt, wife of an astronomy professor. After they were engaged, their relationship did not go well and Judith went to live in Canada; however, a year later she returned to England and they married. In 1978, they moved from London to Cambridge with their young children, where they lived for more than 20 years before moving to Cardiff. They have one daughter and two sons.Their older son was a student at the University of Cambridge and their younger son was a boarder at Christ Church Cathedral School in Oxford and sang in Christ Church Cathedral choir.

Judith Evans, granddaughter of Christopher Williams, was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire for her services to practice nursing in the 1993 New Year Honours.She was diagnosed with breast cancer at about the time the family moved to Cardiff. She works for breast cancer charities, and Martin Evans has become a trustee of Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

Awards and recognition:
1993 - Fellow of the Royal Society.
1998 - Founder Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.
1999 - The USA charity March of Dimes awarded their annual prize in Developmental Biology for research into embryonic growth jointly to Professor Richard Gardner of Oxford University and Evans.
2001 - Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research, jointly with Mario Capecchi and Oliver Smithies.
2002 - Honorary doctorate from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, USA.
2004 - Knighthood (New Year Honours) "for services to medical science".
2005 - Honorary doctorate from the University of Bath, England.
2007 - Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, jointly with Mario Capecchi and Oliver Smithies.
2008 - Honorary doctorate from University College London, England.
2009 - Gold Medal of the Royal Society of Medicine
2009 - Copley Medal of the Royal Society
2009 - Member of the Advisory Board of the Faraday Institute


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