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RNAi Technology

  • John Sterling

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?