Andrew Z. Fire
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2006
Born: 27 April 1959, Stanford, CA, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA
Prize motivation: "for their discovery of RNA interference - gene silencing by double-stranded RNA."
Prize share: 1/2
RNA has multiple functions. Among these, "messenger RNA" carries genetic information from DNA to protein formation. RNA is often a single-stranded spiral, but also exists in double-stranded form. In 1998, Andrew Fire and Craig Mello discovered through their studies of the roundworm C. elegans a phenomenon dubbed "RNA interference". In this phenomenon, double-stranded RNA blocks messenger RNA so that certain genetic information is not converted during protein formation. This "silences" these genes, i.e. renders them inactive. The phenomenon plays an important regulatory role within a genome.