Jennifer Doudna, New Nobel Laureate, on Science and Covid

Good morning.

Last week, Nobel Prize season arrived.

Among the several winners with ties to California were two Stanford professors — Paul R. Milgrom and Robert B. Wilson, were awarded the Nobel in economic science — and three University of California scholars. Reinhard Genzel, a U.C. Berkeley professor emeritus of physics and astronomy, and Andrea Ghez, a U.C.L.A. professor of astrophysics, shared the prize in physics with a mathematician at Oxford University for their work on black holes.

And Jennifer Doudna, a U.C. Berkeley professor, shared the prize in chemistry with Emmanuelle Charpentier, now the director of the Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens in Berlin, for their work on Crispr-Cas9, a method to edit DNA.

[See the full list of 2020 Nobel winners and read more coverage here.]

It’s the first time the award has gone to two women, and Dr. Doudna is the first woman

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Nobel laureate Jennifer Doudna: Gene editing could make a better future

UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism facilitated a video news conference and Q&A session with UC Berkeley’s Nobel Prize winner, Jennifer Doudna, this morning. Watch it here. (UC Berkeley video)

Rapid advances in gene-editing technology have a transformative potential to help cure disease and feed the world, but scientists must assure that the tools are not used for unethical purposes, new UC Berkeley Nobel laureate Jennifer Doudna told reporters today.

Following this morning’s announcement that she had won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Doudna detailed the promise of the CRISPR-cas9 technology at a Berkeley press conference, held remotely during the coronavirus pandemic and livestreamed for a global audience. She hailed the collaboration of her colleagues, both at Berkeley and internationally, for the work that won the world’s highest honor in science.

Her research began, and has continued, “with the vision of bringing genome editing to bear on problems facing

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Nobel Prize in Chemistry awarded for CRISPR genome editing to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna for the development of a method for genome editing.



Jennifer Doudna, Emmanuelle Charpentier posing for the camera: The American biochemist Jennifer A. Doudna (left) and French microbiologist Emmanuelle Charpentier, pictured together in 2016.


© Alexander Heinl/picture alliance/Getty Images
The American biochemist Jennifer A. Doudna (left) and French microbiologist Emmanuelle Charpentier, pictured together in 2016.

They discovered one of gene technology’s sharpest tools: the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors. Using these, researchers can change the DNA of animals, plants and micro-organisms with extremely high precision.

Before announcing the winners on Wednesday, Göran K. Hansson, secretary-general for the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, said that this year’s prize was about “rewriting the code of life.”

The CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing tools have revolutionized the molecular life sciences, brought new opportunities for plant breeding, are contributing to innovative cancer therapies and may make the dream of curing inherited diseases come true, according to a press release from the Nobel committee.



a close up of a book: Doudna and Charpentier are the first two women to jointly win the chemistry prize.


© Niklaus Elmehed/Nobel Prize
Doudna

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