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GEN’s editorial staff interviews life science academic and biotech industry leaders on important research, technology, and trends. These podcasts will keep you informed with all the important details you need.

In 1990, a plant geneticist, Dr. Richard Jorgensen, serendipitously discovered post-transcriptional gene silencing while working with petunias. Eight years later Drs. Andrew Fire and Craig Mello reported in Nature that the injection of double stranded RNA into C. elegans silenced the corresponding genes with complementary sequences. In 2006, Drs. Fire and Mello won a Nobel Prize for their work. Why did it take eight years from the initial petunia study for scientists to fully elucidate the essence and powerful potential of RNA interference, or RNAi, technology?

During this week's podcast, Dr. Jorgensen talks about the long delay in appreciating the wide applicability of RNAi to life science research. He explains the importance of RNAi to basic biological studies and discusses the kinds of RNAi projects he is working on with plants at the University of Arizona. Dr. Jorgensen also expands on an observation made by MIT's Dr. Philip Sharp that "RNAi is fundamentally changing how we do laboratory science."

If you are involved with any type of biological research, this podcast is a must listen!

After listening, return to the blog and answer the following questions:

One of the reasons why the potential of RNAi was not fully appreciated until eight years after its discovery appears to be the lack of "cross talk" and other types of interaction among scientists working in different disciplines. Do you see this as still being an obstacle to advancing scientific research and , if so, what might be some remedies?
Richard A. Jorgensen, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the department of plant sciences at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He is also editor-in-chief of The Plant Cell, a journal published by the American Society of Plant Biologists. Dr. Jorgensen received a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin in 1978, as well as an M.S. in chemistry and a B.S. in biomedical engineering from Northwestern University in 1973. His current research interests include RNA silencing mechanisms in plants, applications of sense-RNA silencing to functional genomics, and chromatin-based control of gene expression

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