Craig C. Mello life and biography

Craig C. Mello picture, image, poster

Craig C. Mello biography

Date of birth : 1960-10-19
Date of death : -
Birthplace : New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.
Nationality : Portuguese-American
Category : Science and Technology
Last modified : 2011-09-20
Credited as : biologist, RNA interference, Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine

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Craig Cameron Mello is a Portuguese-American biologist and Professor of Molecular Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Massachusetts. He was awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, along with Andrew Z. Fire, for the discovery of RNA interference. This research was conducted at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and published in 1998. Mello has been a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator since 2000.

Mello was born in New Haven, Connecticut on October 18, 1960. He was the third child of James and Sally Mello. His father, James Mello, was a paleontologist and his mother, Sally Mello, was an artist. His paternal grandparents immigrated to the US from the Portuguese islands of Azores. His parents met while attending Brown University and were the first children in their respective families to attend college. His grandparents on both sides withdrew from school as teenagers to work for their families. James Mello completed his Ph.D. in paleontology from Yale University in 1962. The Mello family moved to Falls Church in northern Virginia so that James could take a position with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in Washington, DC.

Craig C. Mello was only 47 years old when he won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2006, sharing the honor with Andrew Z. Fire, for their discovery of a natural means for switching off the flow of genetic information in the nematode worm C. elegans. In a technique called ribonucleic acid (RNA) interference, small double-stranded RNA can trigger sequence-specific silencing of gene expression, basically tricking the cell into killing the messenger RNA before it can produce a protein. Now used widely in research, RNA interference is expected to lead to breakthrough medicines against cancer and other genetic diseases.

Mello said the Nobel Committee had to ring twice. Their first call, at 4:30 AM Eastern Time, was answered by Mello's wife, who heard a thickly-accented voice say that her husband had won the Nobel Prize, assumed it was a prank and hung up. When the Committee called again a few minutes later, Mello himself answered the phone. Still, to be certain, he visited the Nobel Prize website, where he saw his name on the screen. In addition to the prestige, Mello and Fire shared a payment of about $1.4-million.


Nobel Prize for Medicine 2006 (with Andrew Z. Fire)
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator (2000-)
National Academy of Sciences
Science Debate 2008

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