Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna Share $500,000 Gruber Genetics Prize for Landmark Discovery of RNA-Guided CRISPR/Cas9 Editing System; Prize to Be Awarded Friday, October 9, at ASHG Annual Meeting

The 2015 Gruber Genetics Prize will be awarded this year to microbiologist Emmanuelle Charpentier, Ph.D., of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig, Germany, and biochemist Jennifer Doudna, Ph.D., of the University of California, Berkeley. These two eminent scientists are being recognized for their joint creation of a revolutionary gene-editing technology known as CRISPR/Cas9, which functions as a molecular scissor, generating double-stranded cuts in targeted DNA molecules with exceptional precision. The technology is being used around the world to advance biological research and to engineer genes for developing powerful new therapies for a wide range of human diseases, as well as new biofuels and agricultural products. The award will be presented to Dr. Charpentier and Dr. Doudna in Baltimore, Maryland, on Friday, October 9, during the 2015 annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG). “The discovery of the CRISPR/Cas9 cellular defense system has transformed molecular genetics,” said Utpal Banerjee, Ph.D., a member of the Selection Advisory Board to the Prize. Dr. Banerjee is Professor and Chair of the Department of Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology at UCLA. He did his post-doctoral fellowship in the laboratory of the renowned Seymour Benzer, Ph.D. “We now have a quick and highly accurate technology for deleting or adding specific pieces of DNA, an advance with wide-ranging implications for both basic science and clinical medicine,” Dr. Banerjee added. Dr. Charpentier and Dr. Doudna began their collaboration in 2011 after meeting at a scientific conference in Puerto Rico. Both had been trying to unlock the molecular mysteries of the CRISPR systems, an unusual repeating sequence of DNA that enables bacteria to mount a successful defense against viral invaders.
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