Biochemist Jennifer Doudna, a professor at UC Berkeley and faculty scientist in the Molecular Biophysics and Integrated Bioimaging Division, has been awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for “the development of a method for genome editing.” She shares the Nobel Prize with co-discoverer Emmanuelle Charpentier, who currently serves as the scientific and managing director of the Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens in Berlin. Together, they form the first all-woman research team to be recognized with a Nobel Prize.
Doudna’s CRISPR work builds on her long history of studying various aspects of RNA, which includes some Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD)-funded work on CRISPR RNA strands and the Cas1 protein. In 2012, Doudna and Charpentier’s research team detailed the underlying mechanisms of the CRISPR-Cas9 system – a component of the bacterial immune system that defends against invading viruses – and explained how it can be programmed to cut DNA at a target sequence.
Today, Doudna and Charpentier’s Nobel Prize-winning CRISPR-Cas9 technology is the basis of many promising medical technologies, including tools to diagnose and treat infections, and has many applications for the development of improved crops, biofuels, and bioproducts.
Read more in the Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley press releases.