Andrew Z. Fire life and biography

Andrew Z. Fire picture, image, poster

Andrew Z. Fire biography

Date of birth : 1959-04-27
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Stanford, California, U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Science and Technology
Last modified : 2011-09-20
Credited as : biologist, professor of genetics, Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine

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Andrew Zachary Fire is an American biologist and professor of pathology and of genetics at the Stanford University School of Medicine. He was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, along with Craig C. Mello, for the discovery of RNA interference (RNAi). This research was conducted at the Carnegie Institution of Washington and published in 1998.

Andrew Z. Fire studied under Nobel laureate Phillip A. Sharp at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and worked alongside Sydney Brenner at England's Medical Research Council. In 1998, Fire discovered ribonucleic acid (RNA) interference, a process by which double stranded RNA inhibits gene expression. Their work effectively created a new field of research, allowing scientists to study what myriad genes do, by controlling this otherwise natural method of switching genes off. Fire and Craig C. Mello shared the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2006, and the accompanying $1.4-million remuneration. Fire now works at Stanford University -- where he was born.

In 1986 Fire joined the staff at the Carnegie Institution in Baltimore, Md., where he conducted his prizewinning research. Working with Mello, Fire helped discover RNA interference (RNAi), a mechanism in which genes are silenced by double-stranded RNA. Naturally occurring in plants, animals, and humans, RNAi regulates gene activity and helps defend against viral infection. The two men published their findings in 1998. Possible applications of RNAi include developing treatments for such diseases as AIDS, cancer, and hepatitis.

In 2003 Fire joined the faculty at Stanford University, taking professorships in pathology and genetics. His later research was concerned with understanding the mechanisms that enable cells to distinguish foreign DNA and RNA from the cells' own genetic material. This work was aimed in part at elucidating the role of RNAi in silencing the activity of foreign genetic material introduced into cells by infectious agents. Fire also investigated the role of RNAi and other genetic mechanisms in enabling cells to adapt to changes that occur throughout an organism's development.

In addition to the Nobel Prize, Fire received several other major awards during his career, including the Meyenburg Prize (2002) from the German Cancer Research Center, the Wiley Prize (2003), and the National Academy of Sciences Award in Molecular Biology (2003).

Fire is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He also serves on the Board of Scientific Counselors and the National Center for Biotechnology, National Institutes of Health.


Nobel Prize for Medicine 2006 (with Craig C. Mello)
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Carnegie Institution for Science 1986-2003
National Academy of Sciences
Science Debate 2008

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