UC Berkeley’s Jennifer Doudna wins 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Just hrs after profitable the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, UC Berkeley biochemist Jennifer Doudna talked to Berkeley Information about her historic earn. (UC Berkeley video) College of California, Berkeley, biochemist Jennifer Doudna nowadays received the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, sharing it with colleague Emmanuelle Charpentier for the co-growth […]

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Just hrs after profitable the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, UC Berkeley biochemist Jennifer Doudna talked to Berkeley Information about her historic earn. (UC Berkeley video)

College of California, Berkeley, biochemist Jennifer Doudna nowadays received the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, sharing it with colleague Emmanuelle Charpentier for the co-growth of CRISPR-Cas9, a genome modifying breakthrough that has revolutionized biomedicine.

CRISPR-Cas9 enables scientists to rewrite DNA — the code of lifestyle — in any organism, like human cells, with unparalleled effectiveness and precision. The groundbreaking electric power and versatility of CRISPR-Cas9 has opened up new and vast-ranging possibilities throughout biology, agriculture and drugs, including the treatment of thousands of intractable disorders.

Doudna and Charpentier, director of the Max Planck Institute for An infection Biology, will share the 10 million Swedish krona (additional than $1 million) prize.

“This terrific honor recognizes the history of CRISPR and the collaborative tale of harnessing it into a profoundly powerful engineering technological know-how that provides new hope and possibility to our modern society,” mentioned Doudna. “What began as a curiosity‐driven, fundamental discovery venture has now grow to be the breakthrough strategy utilized by innumerable scientists functioning to assistance strengthen the human condition. I motivate ongoing aid of essential science as properly as public discourse about the ethical employs and responsible regulation of CRISPR know-how.”

Jennifer Doudna talks during a press conference at UC Berkeley Wednesday early morning. Doudna been given the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her operate with CRISPR Cas9. Doudna credited Berkeley’s tutorial natural environment and management for allowing faculty to prosper on campus. (Picture by Brittany Hosea-Smaller)

Whilst women of all ages have finished study at UC Berkeley that, following they left the campus, received them a Nobel Prize, Doudna is the initially girl on the UC Berkeley school to win the coveted award. She is the campus’s 25th Nobel laureate the 24th winner, Reinhard Genzel, received the Nobel Prize in Physics just yesterday.

Today’s honor also delivers a different very first: Doudna and Charpentier are the first gals to acquire a Nobel Prize in the sciences with each other, which sends the information, Doudna mentioned, that “women rock.”

“Many girls assume that, no make any difference what they do, their perform will never be regarded the way it would be if they were a male,” reported Doudna, who was woke up from a audio sleep by a reporter at 2:53 a.m. today, studying for the initial time that she’d received a Nobel. “And I feel (this prize) refutes that. It can make a strong assertion that women of all ages can do science, gals can do chemistry, and that excellent science is identified and honored.

“That suggests a lot to me personally, for the reason that I know that, when I was increasing up, I couldn’t, in a million a long time, have at any time imagined this minute.”

Jamie and Andy Cate sit together laughing while watching a press conference on a phone

Jennifer Doudna’s husband Jamie Cate (still left), and their son Andy Cate share a minute of laughter while they enjoy Doudna’s press conference at UC Berkeley on a clever telephone Wednesday early morning. Doudna thanked her loved ones for the duration of the function, and science school and colleagues. (Image by Brittany Hosea-Compact)

Doudna claimed she is “really, actually happy to be representing Berkeley, … a community college that supports good science and excellent education, … a spot that welcomes everyone, men and women from all above the earth.” She additional, “It’s a terrific sensation to have this kind of amazing colleagues who are element of this.”

Doudna and Charpentier have been identified by the Nobel Foundation for their discovery that a gene-chopping molecule, Cas9, used by microorganisms to destroy viruses, can be re-engineered as a specific and effortless-to-use gene-editing tool. The CRISPR-Cas9 method is guided by an RNA molecule to bind a precise region in the DNA, and the Cas9 protein then functions like a pair of molecular scissors to reduce the DNA, enabling it to be altered in a exact fashion. This perform has “ushered in a groundbreaking new era in genomics,” claimed UC President Michael V. Drake, M.D, in a statement commending Doudna.

Doudna, who is the Li Ka Shing Chancellor’s Chair in Biomedical and Overall health Sciences and a Howard Hughes Healthcare Institute investigator at UC Berkeley, is president and chair of the board of the Progressive Genomics Institute (IGI), a college scientist at Lawrence Berkeley Countrywide Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), a senior investigator at the Gladstone Institutes and an adjunct professor of cellular and molecular pharmacology at UC San Francisco. Charpentier, who in 2012 was affiliated with the University of Vienna and Umeå College in Sweden, was appointed director of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin in 2015.


UC Berkeley’s Journalism School aired a online video news convention and job interview with Jennifer Doudna this morning. Enjoy it in this article! (UC Berkeley video clip)

Pursuing basic scientific exploration

Doudna’s analysis has centered on RNA, a lover to DNA in carrying genetic facts and a key aspect of various molecular devices (such as the ribosome and telomerase) that aid DNA do its career. She became fascinated in CRISPR due to the fact of her extended-standing interest in this sort of RNA-primarily based machines.

Doudna’s focus was very first drawn to CRISPR by a UC Berkeley colleague, Jill Banfield, who encountered it while finding out germs living in intense environments. The process intrigued Doudna, who puzzled how accurately an unconventional repeating sequence of DNA in the bacterial genome enabled microbes to mount a effective protection in opposition to viral bacterial infections. What they and other researchers pieced alongside one another is that when viruses invade micro organism, the microbes slice up the viral DNA and position these pieces in their genome, like “most wanted posters.”  If related viruses invade once more, roving enzymes with RNA copies of these bits of viral DNA examine the virus and, if the RNA and DNA match, slice the DNA and get rid of the virus.

Charpentier was focusing on the Form 2 process (CRISPR-Cas9) and, in a paper released in Character in 2011, explained an abnormal RNA not found in other CRISPR units — the tracrRNA (pronounced “tracer RNA”) — and how it works alongside one another with the Cas9 protein to assistance produce the RNA copies of the “most preferred posters.” She and Doudna then considered how the Cas9 protein may also be included in the final phase of CRISPR immunity: surveilling the cell and slicing up invading DNA. The two started their collaboration that calendar year after assembly at a scientific convention in Puerto Rico.

A 12 months later on, in a seminal 2012 Science paper, Doudna and Charpentier rocked the scientific local community by displaying that the protein Cas9 is guided by both equally the tracrRNA and an RNA matching a viral sequence, which it takes advantage of to look for out and destroy matching viral DNA.

What is CRISPR-Cas9 and how does it do the job? How do we edit genes? Jennifer Doudna, biochemist at UC Berkeley, points out. (UC Berkeley movie)

Maybe much more importantly, the two researchers also demonstrated that this cellular protection program had apps beyond killing viruses. They engineered the two-piece RNA into a single RNA and confirmed that it could be developed to pinpoint any gene in any species, not just microorganisms, allowing for the Cas9 protein to cleave at that place. Doudna and Charpentier then designed the visionary proposal that CRISPR-Cas9 can be repurposed to be an exceptionally potent resource for editing plant or animal genomes, such as human genes, and customized to delete or increase precise strands of DNA.

“Jennifer has, for a lot of decades, been a revolutionary structural biologist in analyzing the 3D construction and function of RNAs,” claimed Robert Tjian, a UC Berkeley professor of molecular and cell biology and previous head of the Howard Hughes Professional medical Institute. “Her progress of the fused, solitary-guidebook RNA was critical in enabling the successful and simple use of CRISPR-Cas9 as a highly successful gene-editing molecular resource. Her more do the job identifying structures of the Cas9/tutorial-RNA complex has been important in further refining this powerful technology.”

In early 2013, Doudna’s UC Berkeley lab and other folks went on to clearly show that the program could edit human DNA. In the seven decades due to the fact Doudna and Charpentier’s landmark 2012 paper, CRISPR-Cas technology, as comprehensive down below, has been put to use in almost just about every realm of biomedicine, fully validating the electric power of the colleagues’ eyesight. UC President Michael V. Drake, in a assertion this morning, commended ushered in a revolutionary new period in genomics

In 2008, Doudna’s nascent investigation on CRISPR RNA strands and the Cas1 protein was funded by a U.S. Division of Strength (DOE) Laboratory Directed Study and Enhancement (LDRD) Software by her Berkeley Lab affiliation. Established by Congress in 1991, the LDRD system has aided the U.S. continue being at the forefront of technological know-how by way of the impressive, multidisciplinary analysis of the DOE countrywide labs.

Groundbreaking impression

CRISPR-Cas9 engineering has develop into commonplace in labs close to the entire world simply because it is remarkably straightforward to use. Even with its “low barrier to entry,” it is sturdy in a broad assortment of configurations. In specific, it presents new techniques to treat and remedy disorder, to develop a following era of crops for a speedily warming world and to fully grasp the function of residing techniques with amazing speed and clarity.

In medicine, experts and medical professionals have utilised CRISPR-Cas enzymes to exactly change the genetic code of human cells and organs in a way that bodes obvious guarantee to treat genetic diseases and other disorders. Remarkably, in only seven a long time, this technology has long gone from presenting these types of a promise in concept to remaining the basis of a number of experimental initiatives to treat genetic sickness, infectious condition and cancer.


UC Berkeley professor, Jennifer Doudna, discusses the much-achieving good probable for the gene-enhancing software, CRISPR, as effectively as the have to have for close thing to consider and agreement on how it can be utilised. (UC Berkeley video)

Countless numbers of labs around the entire world are now employing CRISPR to engineer lab animals with genetics that mimic human disorder, so that we can find out how a genetic defect will cause indications and check techniques of correcting the difficulty.

In agriculture, researchers about the environment are making use of CRISPR-Cas9 to engineer pest- and disease-resistant crops, as nicely as crop varieties that are much healthier and a lot more wholesome. Highlighting the versatility of CRISPR-Cas technological know-how, the method is becoming pursued as the foundation of so-named “gene drives” to management mosquito populations and lessen their capacity to unfold Zika virus and malaria.

In 2015, Doudna was a person of the organizers of the initial global symposium at the Nationwide Academy of Sciences that targeted on the societal and ethical use of CRISPR technological know-how. She has been at the forefront of the discussion and has argued for inclusive world-wide deliberation in advance of generating genetic changes in human sperm, eggs and embryos. She proceeds to urge the medical and scientific local community and the basic general public to focus on if or when variations to the human germline are suitable.

Doudna and Charpentier have been given various awards for their creation, sharing the 2014 Breakthrough Prize in Genetics, the 2015 Gruber Genetics Prize, the 2015 Princess of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research, the 2016 L’Oreal UNESCO For Females in Science Award, the 2016 Canada Gairdner Worldwide Award, the 2017 Japan Prize and the 2018 Kavli Prize in Nanoscience.

Doudna has gained lots of other main awards as properly, which include the Lurie Prize in the Biomedical Sciences, the Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Analysis, the Dr. H. P. Heineken Prize for Biochemistry and Biophysics, and the LUI Che Woo Prize for Welfare Betterment. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Institute of Medication and the National Academy of Inventors, and a foreign member of the Royal Modern society. In 2015, she was named just one of the 100 major world wide thinkers by International Policy journal, as properly as a single of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people today.

Born in Washington, D.C., Doudna grew up in Hilo, Hawaii, and designed an fascination in chemistry in large college. She graduated from Pomona Higher education in Claremont, California, in 1985 with a degree in biochemistry, then entered graduate school at Harvard College. She attained her Ph.D. in organic chemistry and molecular pharmacology from Harvard Medical School in 1989 and, just after several fellowships and postdoctoral positions, joined the Yale University college in 1994. She moved to UC Berkeley in 2002.

Doudna lives in Berkeley with her spouse, Jamie Cate, a UC Berkeley professor of molecular and mobile biology, and their son, Andrew.

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