Interference pattern

I remember working in a lab during the summer of 1999, the summer between first and second year of med school. I was building a cDNA library and would occasionally have to show up in the middle of the night to check my colonies or adjust the broth.

Every time I went in, no matter how late, the lights were always on in the adjacent lab. The Mello Lab. The techs were always there, 'round the clock.

"What are those techs working on, over there?" I'd ask my labmates, at a more reasonable hour.

"RNA-i," they'd reply.

When the concept of RNAi was first explained to me, I remember feeling impressed and vaguely irritated. I had taken many bio courses in college (Mello's college, no less) and again in med school, and had learned nothing of this powerful, simple mechanism cells had developed for silencing specific genes.

I had already spent several years working on viral transduction, and had become jaded to the whole field of gene therapy, for research and for treatment.

RNAi sounded too good to be true. And the fact that it was discovered and fleshed out just fifty feet away from my humble cDNA library lent an air of unreality to the enterprise.

But Mello and his techs knew they were onto something, and they had the fortitude to see it through. Now the college textbooks have been rewritten, and Craig Mello has won the Nobel Prize for Medicine.