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Source: United Kingdom – Executive Government & Departments

The 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded jointly to Prof Emmanuelle Charpentier and Prof Jennifer Doudna for the development of the CRISPR method for genome editing.

Prof Tom Welton, President of the Royal Society of Chemistry said:

“Congratulations to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna, whose Nobel recognition is hugely deserved, not least considering how transformative their CRISPR discoveries are already proving.

“The ability to edit genes provides an incredible toolkit for scientific research that will benefit humankind for generations to come, from fighting and preventing diseases to feeding our growing global population.

“I am also hugely pleased to see that the Nobel committee has chosen to honour two leading women in active research – their teamwork is an example of how scientific breakthroughs are based on a truly global community of researchers and they can become role models for aspiring scientists of all genders.”

Sarah Norcross, Director of the Progress Educational Trust, said:

From the laboratory to the clinic and beyond, the CRISPR approach to genome editing is now invaluable. Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna deserve this accolade for their pioneering work.

“By taking a natural phenomenon from single-celled organisms (where CRISPR defends against viruses), and adapting it for deliberate use in multi-celled organisms (such as humans), Charpentier and Doudna devised an unprecedentedly powerful and precise means of changing DNA sequences in living cells.

“There is still vast potential for CRISPR to bring further benefit to humanity, provided that it is used in diligent and well-regulated way.”

Prof Ali Tavassoli, Professor of Chemical Biology Chemistry, University of Southampton, said:

“It is good to see the Nobel committee recognise the significance and importance of this relatively recent discovery; there is tremendous potential for CRISPR to alter our approach to treating genetic disorders and disease.

“The technique has been widely adopted and used by a large number of laboratories around the world and has made important indirect contributions to multiple scientific advances. It should also be noted that this work arose from ‘blue skies’ research, highlighting the importance of scientific research that may not immediately have an application”.

Prof Simon Waddington, Professor of Gene Therapy, University College London, said:

“The biological significance of their work, and the enormous efforts of many other scientists in the field of genome editing, cannot be overstated. Genome editing was in its infancy in the 1980s but the tools that were available even until the 2000s were highly specialist. CRISPR truly democratised genome editing, making it accessible to a multitude of scientists across many fields of biology, from plant research to diagnostics to biomedical research in cancer, rare diseases and so many other areas. Further still, the work of Doudna, Charpentier and others in CRISPR elevated genetic research into the public consciousness and has provoked an intense and deep debate about our relationship with our own genetics, and the genetics of the panoply of every other living creature.”

Dr John Parrington, Lecturer in Cellular & Molecular Pharmacology, University of Oxford, said:

“I think this is very well deserved indeed. CRISPR/Cas genome editing is a revolutionary technology that has made it possible for the first time in history to precisely edit the genomes of living cells of practically any species. It is already having a major impact on biomedical research, clinical medicine, and agriculture and indeed society as a whole. It has immense potential to transform our lives for the better but also raises many ethical and socio-political questions.

“In fact a number of other scientists have made important contributions to this discovery, but there is no doubt that Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier played a key role in understanding the mechanism of CRISPR/Cas in bacteria and how it might be developed as a genome editing tool.

“I particularly welcome the award of this prize to two outstanding women scientists and I hope this serves as a stimulus for more women to be inspired to seek careers in the field of science and technology.”

MIL OSI United Kingdom