A Nobel Warrior

Is the remarkable life of one of this year's laureates a triumph of nature or nurture?

All three winners of this year's Nobel Prize for Medicine are eminent scientists, but Mario Capecchi is the one with the spiral-staircase story: the starving, homeless Italian street kid who found his way to America, to Harvard, to Utah, ever the refugee, before finally arriving at eternal glory and the Nobel Prize. It's in many ways a familiar tale, Oliver Twist meets Albert Einstein, the pilgrim who comes to the promised land expecting, as he says, "the roads to be paved in gold. What I found actually was just opportunity." But his story also has enough nice serrated edges to challenge...

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