Halifax professor and Nobel prize winner dies aged 91

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Nobel prize winner Dr Oliver Smithies, who was born in Halifax and attended the former Heath Grammar School, has died aged 91

Professor Smithies, who attended from 1930 to 1936, picked up the 2007 Nobel Prize for his “principles for introducing specific gene modifications in mice by the use of embryonic stem cells”.

He shared the prize with Mario Capecchi, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the University of Utah, and Sir Martin Evans.

The professor became the third person from Calderdale to achieve the award, joining Geoffrey Wilkinson, who won for chemistry, and John Cockcroft, who picked up a Nobel prize for physics.

Both were born in Todmorden.

Although he left Yorkshire 64 years ago to attend Oxford University and now lives in North Carolina, Dr Smithies did not forget his roots.

In 2010 he unveiled a blue plaque commemorating his time at Copley Primary School.

He lived at Wakefield Road, Copley, and Dudwell Lane, Skircoat Green

He worked at the University of North Carolina laboratory and piloted light aircraft in his spare time.

Prof Smithies is survived by his wife, Dr. Nobuyo Maeda, Robert H. Wagner Distinguished Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the School of Medicine. They joined the Carolina faculty in 1988.

Speaking on the university’s webiste Chancellor Carol L. Folt said: “Oliver Smithies was such a loving, wonderful force for all things good in this world.”

“Spending time with Oliver and Nobuyo has been one of the highlights of my tenure at Carolina. Every time I saw the two of them together, I was uplifted and inspired by their relationship, joyful attitude to life and generosity of spirit.”