American Andrew Z. Fire shares Nobel Prize for discovering RNAi

Washington, D.C., October 2, 2006--Andrew Z. Fire, a scientist who discovered RNAi, or RNA interference while at the Carnegie Institution's Department of Embryology, along with Craig C. Mello of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, was awarded a Nobel Prize for the discovery today.

The Fire-Mello discovery that double-stranded RNA can quash the activity of specific genes is an important breakthrough in modern molecular biology. RNAi is now being widely used both as a research tool and for the development of products that could combat diseases such as cancer and HIV.

"I am very honored that our work has received such positive attention," said Fire. "Science is a group effort. Please recognize that the recent progress in the field of RNA-based gene silencing has involved original scientific inquiry from research groups around the world. Any prize recognition should go to the many scientists who have made individual contributions, and to the spirit of scientific community that has allowed information and ideas to flow freely. Our lab's work in this field has also been a group effort. I have been fortunate to work on this project with many talented colleagues at the Carnegie Institution, with Dr. Craig Mello and his talented colleagues at the University of Massachusetts, and with the insightful support of the National Institutes of Health," he stated.

"Every one of us at Carnegie is thrilled for Andy, for the institution, and for the promise this discovery has for advancing our understanding of basic molecular processes and helping cure disease," said Carnegie president Richard A. Meserve. "Andy's work is a vivid example of how Carnegie's commitment to freedom of research can yield extraordinary results for humanity." Two other Nobel geneticists have come from Carnegie--Alfred Hershey, who won the prize in 1969 for his discovery that genes were made of DNA, and Barbara McClintock, who won in 1983 for her work on jumping genes, also known

Contact: Tina McDowell
Carnegie Institution

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