Collections and Resources, Sciences

Remembering Dr. Oliver Smithies

Dr. Oliver Smithies

Dr. Oliver Smithies

Dr. Oliver Smithies, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s first full-time faculty member to win a Nobel Prize and a world-renowned giant in the field of gene targeting, passed away Tuesday, Jan. 10, at UNC Hospitals after a short illness. He was 91.

Smithies, the School of Medicine’s Weatherspoon Eminent Distinguished Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, received the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 2007 for his development of a technique called homologous recombination that introduced targeted genetic modifications to cells. He shared the prize with Mario Capecchi of the University of Utah’s Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Sir Martin Evans of the United Kingdom.

The UNC Libraries are fortunate to have enjoyed a warm and close collaboration with Dr. Smithies.

The Oliver Smithies Research Archive website makes available to the world the 150-plus notebooks where Smithies meticulously recorded his research notes daily. Smithies began the habit as a graduate student at Oxford and continued through more than sixty years of scientific endeavor. The website also features audio clips of Smithies going through the notebooks and providing context.


Through the Oliver Smithies Research Archive (, the UNC Library has placed Dr. Smithies’ research notebooks online.

In addition, the official replica of Dr. Smithies’ Nobel Prize medal is on temporary display in Davis Library, along with that awarded in 2015 to UNC’s Dr. Aziz Sancar.

We send our condolences to Dr. Smithies’ wife, Dr. Nobuyo Maeda, Robert H. Wagner Distinguished Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the School of Medicine, and we mourn with the entire Carolina community the loss of a scientific light and generous teacher and friend.

Read more about Dr. Oliver Smithies  (from UNC)

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