A University of Utah molecular biologist has been appointed an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Mario R. Capecchi, who has been credited with the first successful gene targeting in cells from a complex organism, was nominated for the honor by Hughes investigators and was selected by HHMI's advisory and review boards.

Capecchi studies and manipulates genes in cells as part of research aimed at eliminating hereditary diseases in humans and analyzing development in mammals. Through Capecchi's research, medical scientists may soon be able to use a good gene to replace a defective one in order to prevent a number of human genetic diseases.