Nobel Prize in Chemistry Awarded to 2 Scientists for Work on Genome Editing

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[View the latest updates to the 2020 Nobel Prize winners list.]

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was collectively awarded on Wednesday to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna for their 2012 work on the event of Crispr-Cas9, a technique for genome enhancing. The announcement marks the primary time a science Nobel has been awarded to 2 girls.

“This year’s prize is about rewriting the code of life,” Goran Okay. Hansson, the secretary-general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, mentioned as he introduced the names of the laureates.

Dr. Charpentier and Dr. Doudna, solely the fifth and sixth girls to win the chemistry prize, pioneered early work on Crispr-Cas9, a sort of genetic scissors that permits researchers to change the DNA of animals, crops and microorganisms with extraordinarily excessive precision. Since then, it has been utilized in quite a few scientific functions, from genetically modifying crops to growing cures-in-progress for circumstances like sickle cell illness and hereditary blindness.

Fast, environment friendly and financial, Crispr “solves problems in every field of biology,” mentioned Angela Zhou, an info scientist on the Chemical Abstracts Service on the American Chemical Society.

While the 2 scientists developed Crispr for basic use, among the system’s particular functions have turn into ensnared in thorny moral debates across the genetic alteration of human embryos. In 2018, He Jiankui, a Chinese scientist, introduced that he had used the know-how to edit the genes of two infants in an try to make them proof against H.I.V. Dr. He’s experiments had been decried by many within the scientific neighborhood as irresponsible and harmful due to the danger that the kids could have suffered unwanted effects from the process, in addition to Dr. He’s lack of transparency.

Claes Gustafsson, chair of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry, mentioned, “There is enormous power in this genetic tool, which affects us all.”

Dr. Charpentier, who’s French, is the director of the Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens in Berlin. Dr. Doudna (the primary syllable rhymes with loud) is a professor on the University of California, Berkeley. They are the third and fourth girls to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry within the 21st century, out of greater than 50 recipients.

Dr. Charpentier mentioned she was “happy” to be one of many few feminine recipients of the prize, and hoped the win can be inspiring to younger girls “to follow the path of science.” The joint win between two girls in educational disciplines nonetheless dominated by males, she added, “can provide a really strong message for young girls.”

Dr. Charpentier, 51, and Dr. Doudna, 56, met at a restaurant in Puerto Rico in 2011 on the margins of a convention they had been each attending, the Nobel committee mentioned. They first revealed their discovery of the Crispr-Cas 9 genetic scissors in 2012.

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