Nobel Prize Gossip: Why Did Greg Hannon Not Win?

I was just thinking about something. The Nobel Committee is usually mysterious in how they pick the winners, but why did Greg Hannon not win the Nobel with the others? My understanding was that he was sort of the guy for RNA interference. In fact, the review that I cited in my last post came from him because I know that he has written all kinds of reviews about it.

Also, a lab mate of mine mentioned this: why did they win Medicine and not Chemistry? Because RNAi treatments have ended up being such loads of hype. It has ended up being such a load because no one can get enough of it into a person to make it work.

Here is an open thread to speculate on such matters and other matters of molecular biologist gossip.


More like this

2 American ‘Worm People’ Win Nobel for RNA Work. I don't remember us discussing RNAi in my biology classes in college, and that wasn't so long ago. The field has bloomed in recent years though, and just about every issue of Science and Nature reports new findings based on the use of interference…
Best as I can tell, our resident MD/PhD student, Jake Young at Pure Pedantry, was first to post on this morning's announcement. The Nobel Prize website has a very nice press release on why the discovery of RNA interference is so central to our understanding of biology and is likely to result in…
Andrew Fire and Craig Mello have won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for the discovery of RNA interference: Americans Andrew Z. Fire and Craig C. Mello won the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine Monday for discovering a powerful way to turn off the effect of specific genes, opening a new avenue for…
OK a breif history of RNA interference. 1990 Rich Jorgensen at the University of Arizona wanted to make petunias a deeper purple. His group tried expressing extra copies of the same gene and ... he got white flowers. The very gene he wanted to overexpress got turned off. This effect was named "…

Oh I could not agree with anything in this post!

RNAi has been a revolution! Ask anyone who works with higher eukaryotic systems. It's a new paradigm of how cells regulate gene function. It's allowed Cell Biologists and Developmental biologists to knock out genes. It was a true shift in how we view gene regulation.

As for Greg Hannon, he did not discover RNAi, in fact he did not make any of the "first" discoveries. Everyone expected Mello and Fire to get it, but they should have included either Ambrose (who discovered microRNAs) or Rich Jorgensen who FIRST DISCOVERED RNAi in petunias. I guess flower science doesn't get any respect.

"Also, a lab mate of mine mentioned this: why did they win Medicine and not Chemistry? Because RNAi treatments have ended up being such loads of hype."

They won for "Physiology or Medicine", and they won for their basic scientific discoveries concerning the phsyiological roles of RNAi. Whether RNAi does or does not itself become a useful medical treatment has nothing to do with the huge importance of their discoveries. (I have no idea whether it is likely to or not.)

By PhysioProf (not verified) on 02 Oct 2006 #permalink

I happen to find this blog from a random google search. Unfortunately, people win the Nobel prize for opening up a field, not for making major breakthroughs in it (like finding Slicer-argonaute 2 and Dicer). So while Andy Fire worked (with Mello) to discover RNAi, he has not made the number of notable discoveries within RNAi that Greg Hannon has done in the last 9 years. Check out cited papers for proof (
The plant community was forgotten with this nobel and it should have been split with someone from that field.