Two women, Charpentier and Doudna, win 2020 Nobel Chemistry Prize for gene editing tool

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  • Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the development of a method for genome editing.
  • Charpentier (France) and Doudna (US) discovered the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors, "one of gene technology's sharpest tools".
  • The pair become the sixth and seventh women to win a Nobel for chemistry, joining the likes of Marie Curie.


STOCKHOLM – Scientists Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the development of a method for genome editing, the awards body said on Wednesday.

"Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna have discovered one of gene technology's sharpest tools: the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors," the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in a statement on awarding the 10 million Swedish krona ($1.1 million) prize.

"This technology has had a revolutionary impact on the life sciences, is contributing to new cancer therapies and may make the dream of curing inherited diseases come true."

"The ability to cut the DNA where you want has revolutionised the life sciences," Pernilla Wittung Stafshede, member of the academy of sciences, told reporters.

French researcher Emmanuelle Charpentier
Picture taken on 19 May 2015 shows French researcher in microbiology, genetics and biochemistry Emmanuelle Charpentier in a lab at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig, northern Germany.

Charpentier, who is French, and Doudna, an American, become the sixth and seventh women to win a Nobel for chemistry, joining the likes of Marie Curie, who won in 1911, and more recently, Frances Arnold, in 2018.

In keeping with tradition, chemistry is the third prize announced every year and follows those for medicine and physics earlier this week.

The prizes for achievements in science, literature and peace were created and funded in the will of Swedish dynamite inventor and businessman Alfred Nobel and have been awarded since 1901, with the economics award a later addition.

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