Andrew Zachary Fire was born on April 27, 1959 at Stanford University Hospital in Santa Clara County California. Spending most of his early years (until age 16) in nearby Sunnyvale, he attended the local public schools: Hollenbeck Elementary School (1964–1970), Mango Junior High School (1970–1972), and Fremont High School (1972–1975).
Fire enrolled at University of California at Berkeley in the Fall of 1975, receiving an AB degree in Mathematics in 1978. Fire then entered the Ph.D program in Biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a National Science Foudation Fellow in the Fall of 1978. Fire’s Ph.D. thesis, titled “In Vitro Transcription Studies of Adenovirus”, was submitted in 1983. From 1983 to 1986, Fire received training in the Caenorhabditis elegans group at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England as a Helen Hay Whitney Foundation Fellow. During this time, Fire initiated research directed toward improvement of microinjection technology and development of assays for expression of foreign DNA in C. elegans worms.
During his last year at the MRC lab, Fire applied for a research position at the Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Department of Embryology in Baltimore Maryland, also applying for an independent research grant “Gene Regulation during early development of C. elegans” from the US National Institutes of Health. Both applications were successful and Fire moved to Baltimore in November of 1986. From his arrival at the Carnegie until 1989, Fire held the title of Staff Associate, an independent research position that was designed to facilitate the development of novel research programs in the absence of additional academic responsibilities. In 1989, Fire was appointed as a regular staff member at the Carnegie, with his group continuing to develop DNA transformation technology and collaborating on a number of studies to understand the molecular basis of gene activation in muscle cells. Along with the appointment as a full staff member at Carnegie Institution, Fire also acquired an adjunct appointment as a faculty member in the Department of Biology at Johns Hopkins, where he was involved in both graduate and undergraduate teaching and mentoring.
In 2003, Dr. Fire moved back to Santa Clara County, taking a position at the Stanford University School of Medicine, where he currently holds the title of Professor of Pathology and Genetics.
This autobiography/biography was written at the time of the award and later published in the book series Les Prix Nobel/ Nobel Lectures/The Nobel Prizes. The information is sometimes updated with an addendum submitted by the Laureate.