Mello and his colleague Andrew Fire receive the 2006 Nobel Prize in Medicine for their discovery of RNA interference (RNAi). They have demonstrated that a certain form of RNA can interfere with the expression of genes. The RNAi mechanism destroys the gene products that a virus needs to replicate itself, halting the progress of a viral infection. The discovery offers potential for understanding and manipulating the cellular basis of human disease.
Craig Cameron Mello is born in New Haven, Connecticut, as the third child of a paleontologist father and artist mother.
He moves on to work as a postdoctoral fellow at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
He starts his own lab at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1994. He continues his collaboration with Andrew Fire, investigating the functioning of RNA.
Mello attends the University of Colorado, Boulder, for graduate studies in molecular, cellular and developmental biology with David Hirsh.
Dr. Mello holds his BS in biochemistry from Brown University.
He grows up and attends high school in Fairfax, Virginia. The Mello family has a strong tradition of discussions around the dinner table; he learns to argue, to listen, and to admit it when he is wrong about something. At a time when young Mello was not performing so well in school, these daily discussions help to build his confidence and self-esteem.
When his instructor in Colorado takes a position in industry, Mello moves on to Harvard University to continue his research. He starts working with Andrew Fire and gains his PhD in 1990 in the field of Cellular and Developmental Biology.