Often, when discussing about women Leaders, we tend to think of leaders who lead a country or a corporate or an entrepreneur but very rarely women scientists. Today, I want to share notes on couple of leaders who have revolutionized the life sciences world. As an engineer and a cancer survivor, I was always intrigues by genetic mutations and genomic editing. My joy knew no bounds when Dr. Emmanuel Charpentier and Dr. Jennifer Doudna were awarded the Nobel Prize of Chemistry for their CRISPR method of gene editing.
Press Release from Nobel Org
“Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna are awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020 for discovering one of gene technology’s sharpest tools: the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors. Researchers can use these to change the DNA of animals, plants and microorganisms with extremely high precision. This technology has revolutionized the molecular life sciences, brought new opportunities for plant breeding, is contributing to innovative cancer therapies and may make the dream of curing inherited diseases come true.”
When Dr. Emmanuelle Charpentier and Dr. Jennifer Doudna started investigating the immune system of a Streptococcus bacterium, one idea was that they could perhaps develop a new form of antibiotic. Instead, they discovered a molecular tool that can be used to make precise incisions in genetic material, making it possible to easily change the code of life.
Only five women had been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry till 2020, with Marie Curie pioneering in 1911 for her services to the advancement of chemistry by the discovery of the elements radium and polonium.
Both Dr.Doudna and Dr. Charpentier are successful entrepreneurs while also leading their respective divisions in University of Berkeley and Max Planc Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin. Dr. Doudna, co-founded Mammoth Biosciences, a San Francisco-based bio engineering tech startup. She is also a co-founder of Scribe Therapeutics which pioneered CasX, a more compact, next-generation Cas9 which can efficiently cut DNA. In 2013, Dr. Charpentier co-founded CRISPR Therapeutics and ERS Genomics along with Shaun Foy and Rodger Novak.
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Written by Shoba Rao