The 2015 Gruber Genetics Prize will be awarded to microbiologist Emmanuelle Charpentier (Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany) and biochemist Jennifer Doudna (University of California, Berkeley; HHMI; Innovative Genomics Initiative), who are being recognized for their joint creation of a revolutionary new gene-editing technology known as CRISPR-Cas9.
Inside cells, CRISPR-Cas9 functions as a precise molecular scissor, generating double-stranded breaks in targeted DNA molecules with exceptional precision. Charpentier and Doudna began collaborating in 2011, when both had been investigating the molecular mysteries of CRISPRs (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats), unusual repeating sequences of DNA that enable bacteria to defend against viral invaders. In their seminal 2012 paper in Science (A programmable dual-RNA-guided DNA endonuclease in adaptive bacterial immunity), Charpentier and Doudna showed that Cas9 RNA‐guided proteins “read” genetic information on CRISPR sequences and then use that information to seek out and destroy the invading viral DNA. They also demonstrated that this cellular defense system had applications beyond killing viruses and that it could be customized by researchers, allowing them to program the Cas9 protein to break, repair and edit specific strands of DNA.
CRISPR-Cas9 is an exceptionally powerful genetic engineering tool that is now being used in laboratories around the world to advance biological research, develop powerful new therapies for a wide range of human diseases, and engineer new biofuels and agricultural products.
Charpentier and Doudna will be presented with their award during a ceremony at the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics in Baltimore, MD, on Oct. 9.
Geneticists Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna Share $500,000 Gruber Genetics Prize for Landmark Discovery of the RNA-guided CRISPR/Cas9 Gene Editing System
Gruber Foundation | A. Sarah Hreha |June 16, 2015
Contact: A. Sarah Hreha, (203) 432‐6231, email@example.com, www.gruber.yale.edu/news‐media