Jennifer Doudna was awarded the 2020 Wolf Prize in Medicine, a prestigious international prize awarded for unique contributions to humanity. A prize ceremony, delayed by the pandemic, was held outdoors at Doudna’s home in Berkeley on Monday, May 24, 2021.
Doudna shares the prize with colleague Emmanuelle Charpentier, director of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, Germany, for their 2012 co-invention of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology.
Like many transformative discoveries throughout history, Doudna and Charpentier’s work began as curiosity-driven basic research. In less than a decade, CRISPR-Cas9 has transformed life science research, and promises to change the way we treat disease, solve hunger, and respond to climate change.
The Wolf Foundation lauded Doudna for, “her continuous research excellence which has led to her leading work that has systematically revealed both the structural elements and the medicine-revolutionizing mechanism of bacterial immunity via RNA-guided genome editing in collaboration with Emanuelle Charpentier. And for her important contribution to the ethical discussion of how this technology should best be used for ensuring successful yet humane and considerate prospects for human health and well-being.”
In addition to continuing research in genome editing and RNA biochemistry, Doudna has been a leading voice on the international stage on the ethical use of genome editing and how the nations of the world can cooperate to develop this technology safely and transparently.
The Wolf Prizes have been awarded annually since 1978 to renowned scientists and artists, “for achievements in the interest of mankind and friendly relations among people,” regardless of religion, sex, race, nationality, or political views. Each prize winner receives a certificate and a monetary award of $100,000.