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Sergei Mirkin was born in 1956 in Moscow, Russia. His father was a professional violin player. His mother gave up playing cello to be an engineer. In 1978, he received a master's degree in Genetics from the Moscow State University. From 1978 to 1989, he worked in the Institute of Molecular Genetics, Russian Academy of Sciences. In 1983, he received a Ph.D. degree in Molecular Biology (advisor – Roman B. Khesin), after which he joined the laboratory of Maxim Frank-Kamenetskii (currently, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Boston University). In 1989, he joined the faculty of the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he worked until moving on to the position of the White Family Chair of Biology at Tufts University, in 2007.