NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) - The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to Andrew Fire and Craig Mello for their discovery of RNA interference, the Nobel Assembly at Sweden's Karolinska Institutet said today.
In 1998 Fire, a professor of pathology and genetics at the Stanford University School of Medicine, and Mello, a professor of molecular medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, discovered and published the mechanism that can degrade mRNA from a specific gene.
While investigating how gene expression is regulated in the nematode worm, they deduced that RNAi silenced genes and can prevent certain proteins from forming. The discovery of RNAi “clarified many confusing and contradictory experimental observations and revealed a natural mechanism for controlling the flow of genetic information,” the committee said.
According to the Nobel Prize web site, the 2006 Nobel Prize is 10 million Swedish kronor, or $1.36 million, which Fire and Mello will share.