Andrew Fire, with his studies on gene regulation in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, has made important contributions to describing and elucidating mechanisms of gene silencing by double stranded RNA. This paradigm of gene silencing contributed to by the work of Fire has been described as "one of the most exciting discoveries of recent times in molecular biology". Much effort has been focused on the efficacy of a system that can use just a few molecules of dsRNA to silence a large population of target molecules. The underlying responses to these silencing triggers are present in many organisms, and in plants have clearly been shown to be involved in response to pathogenic challenges. These gene silencing processes in animal systems have a role in viral pathogenesis and in tumor progression in mammalian systems.
Andrew Fire is a native of Santa Clara County, California. Dr. Fire received training at UC Berkeley receiving a BA in mathematics in 1978. He received his PhD in biology from MIT in 1983 studying with Dr. Philip Sharp and did postdoctoral work at the Medical Research Council laboratory in Cambridge, UK in the group of Dr. Sydney Brenner from1983-1986. From 1986 to 2003, Dr. Fire was on the staff of the Carnegie Institution of Washington's Department of Embryology in Baltimore, Maryland during which time he was also Adjunct Professor of Biology at Johns Hopkins University. In 2003, Dr. Fire joined the faculty as Professor in the Departments of Pathology and Genetics at Stanford University School of Medicine. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a recipient of many awards and prizes including the Wiley Prize, Rockefeller University in 2003, the National Academy of Sciences Molecular Biology Award in 2003, and the H.P. Heineken Prize in Biochemistry and Biophysics from the Netherlands Academy of Sciences in 2004.