Nobel Prize in Chemistry Is Awarded for Gene-Editing Technologies

Emmanuelle Charpentier, left and Jennifer Doudna, the winners of this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry, pictured in October 2015.


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Two scientists won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry on Wednesday for developing a method of genome editing that is contributing to new cancer therapies and providing a path toward cures for inherited diseases.

France’s Emmanuelle Charpentier and American Jennifer A. Doudna shared the prize awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm.

They investigated the immune system of a Streptococcus bacterium and discovered a molecular tool that can be used to make precise incisions in genetic material, making it possible to easily change the code of life, the academy said.

Upon hearing the news of the award, Dr. Charpentier, director of the Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens, Berlin, said she hoped the method of using CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors to cut any DNA molecule at a predetermined site “could be harnessed to treat human genetic disorders.”

She said she hoped the award to two women would “provide a message specifically to young girls who would like to follow the path of science and to show them that in friendship women can also be awarded prizes.”

“But more importantly, women in science can also have an impact for the research that they perform,” Dr. Charpentier added.

The 2019 prize was awarded to three scientists for their work developing lithium-ion batteries—power sources that touched off a technological revolution and gave rise to cellphones and electric cars.

Write to Joanna Sugden at [email protected]

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