Fire, Andrew Zachary

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Andrew Zachary Fire, 1959–, American geneticist, b. Palo Alto, Calif., Ph.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1983. After a long association with the Carnegie Institution of Washington (1986–2003), Fire became a professor at Stanford Univ. in 2003. Fire and Craig Mello received the 2006 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for their joint discovery of RNA interference, in which the activity of a specific gene is silenced by double-stranded RNA. In this catalytic process, double-stranded RNA sets in motion a biochemical mechanism that corrupts messenger RNA molecules carrying the same genetic code as that of the double-stranded RNA. RNA interference has providea new method for the study of gene function, and it has the potential to lead to the development of novel agricultural pesticides and medical therapies.