Portuguese American Journal

Craig Mello revisits his roots in the Azores – People

Portuguese American scientist, Craig Mello, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize for Medicine, is back in the Azores, on vacation, to visit relatives.

Craig Mello has roots in Maia, São Miguel island, the homeland of his great-grandfather. He visited the Azores for the first time in 2009.

In a statement to the press in Ponta Delgada, Craig Mello urged the young generation to take advantage of the educational opportunities offered at the University of the Azores, namely the role of the university as a center of investigation.

Recognizing the significant role the Azores are playing in the field of ecological research, he remarked that the islands offer ideal conditions for scientific investigation and could become a center for research where new ideas could be tested.

Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Craig Mello, 51, is a biologist and a professor of Molecular Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, in Worcester (MA).

With biologist Andrew Fire, Craig Mello’s research has helped to establish that certain RNA molecules play a far more impressive role in the cell. In a groundbreaking discovery, he found that short snippets of RNA can silence the expression of targeted genes.

This phenomenon, called RNA interference, not only has become an indispensable means for studying gene function but has been found to be a normal part of gene regulation during embryonic development and may play a role in cancer and other diseases.

He is also a co-founder and the scientific advisory board member of RXi Pharmaceuticals biopharmaceutical company.

Craig Mello was a recipient of many awards and honors when awarded de 2006 Nobel Prize for Medicine with Andrew Z. Fire for the discovery of RNA interference.

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