2020 Nobel Laureates in Chemistry

Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna. Credit: © Nobel Media. Ill. Niklas Elmehed

On 7 October 2020, the Royal Swedish Academy of Science announced that Emmanuelle Charpentier (French) and Jennifer A. Doudna (American) are the 2020 Nobel Laureates in Chemistry for developing the CRISPR-cas9 genetic scissors.  Due to the current environment and environment of COVID-19, an online version of the traditional Nobel Awarding Ceremony will be held this year.

Together, they recreated the CRISPR-cas9 genetic scissors in a test tube. They also simplified the scissors’ molecular components, so they were easier to use. With the development of this method for genome editing, « researchers can change the DNA of animals, plants and microorganisms with extremely high precision. » Their discovery will contribute to new cancer therapies and may be used in the future to treat inherited diseases.

Emmanuelle Charpentier is the director of the Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens in Berlin, Germany, and Jennifer A. Doudna is a professor at UC Berkeley and investigator at Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). They are the first two women to ever share a Nobel Prize, and the sixth and seventh women ever to win a Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Both scientists have also received the 2016 L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award for their revolutionary invention of genetic scissors. These awards are presented every year to five outstanding women scientists in recognition of their scientific accomplishments, one from each world regions: Africa and the Arab States, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America. Discover more about it here.

More information is available on the official Nobel Prize website.

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