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Craig Mello, 2006 Nobel Laureate in Medicine, to Speak at MBL Friday Evening Lecture, August 17

MBL, WOODS HOLE, MA – Dr. Craig Mello, recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Medicine, will present a lecture titled “Return to the RNAi World: Rethinking Gene Expression, Evolution and Medicine,” on Friday, August 17, 2007 at 8:00 PM in the MBL (Marine Biological Laboratory) Lillie Auditorium, located on MBL Street in Woods Hole. The presentation, which is is free and open to the public, is the final lecture in the MBL’s 2007 Friday Evening Lecture series.

While investigating the genetic workings of the microscopic worm, C. elegans, Mello and colleague Andrew Fire, Ph.D., discovered RNAi, a natural but previously unrecognized process by which a certain form of RNA can be manipulated to silence—or interfere with—the expression of a selected gene.

The discovery, published in the journal Nature in 1998, has had two extraordinary impacts on biological science. One is as a research tool: RNAi is now the state-of-the-art method by which scientists can knock out the expression of specific genes in cells, to thus define the biological functions of those genes. But just as important has been the finding that RNA interference is a normal process of genetic regulation that takes place during development. Thus, RNAi has provided not only a powerful research tool for experimentally knocking out the expression of specific genes, but has opened a completely new and totally unanticipated window on developmental gene regulation. RNAi is now showing promising in the clinic as a new class of gene-specific therapeutics.

Dr. Mello is the Blais University Chair in Molecular Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS). He received his B.S. in biochemistry from Brown University and his Ph.D. in Cellular and Developmental Biology from Harvard University. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center before coming to UMMS in 1995. He was also a 1995 Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences.


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