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Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Hello, this is the Nobel Pr... (click) Hello?


To: Families of Groundbreaking Genetics Researchers
From: The Mello Family of Shrewsbury
Re: Prank Phone Calls

Hi folks. Just a reminder: If some guy with a Swedish accent calls, don't assume it's a prank. You never know.

The Mellos

No, it wasn't a Saturday Night Live sketch. University of Massachusetts scientist Craig C. Mello's wife did actually hang up on the Nobel Prize Committee folks yesterday.

They called back, though, and broke the news that Mello and a collaborator had won the Nobel Prize in medicine for discovering a way to block the effect of individual genes in cells. The technique, called ``RNA interference," has transformed research into diseases such as Alzheimer's and HIV.

Mello, 45, becomes the first to win the honor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, which has long labored in the shadows of the research powerhouses Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology to the east, Globe writers Carolyn Y. Johnson and Gareth Cook report on today's front page.

Mello will share the honor and the $1.4 million in prize money with collaborator Andrew Fire , 47, a professor of pathology and genetics at Stanford University.

Craig Mello with daughter Victoria. (Photo: Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

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