Author: Anuhya Banerjee
The annual Nobel Prize awards have always intended to be presented to “those who, during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind" (NobelPrize.Org). Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier, the 2020 Nobel laureates for Chemistry, have been recognized with this title for their outstanding work with a twist: developing a method for genome editing, and being the first female duo to win the Nobel science prize!
The Duo Scientists
Jennifer Doudna grew up with an interest in nature and the world around her, studying Biochemistry at Pomona College and eventually doing her graduate work at Harvard University. In an interview, Doudna described a breakthrough moment in her career when she found herself in the graduate program at Harvard Medical School with the opportunity to work under Nobel Laureate Jack Szostak. One afternoon, she had been asked by Szostak for her opinion on an experiment and felt in awe by the concept of her opinions being valued. Later on she researched ribozymes, RNA molecules which can catalyze chemical reactions, at the laboratory under Thomas Cech who was a Nobel prize winner as well. In 2002, Doudna had the opportunity to have her own laboratory at UC Berkeley which is where she eventually studied CRISPR.
Jennifer Doudna (left) and Emmanuelle Charpentier (right) shared the 2020 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for the development of a method for genome editing.
At a conference in Puerto Rico in 2011, Doudna had met Emmanuelle Charpentier and the two discovered that they had the complement strengths to study CRISPR. Charpentier vowed at a young age to contribute to the medical well-being of people with her interests in psychology, philosophy, mathematics, and, most of all, medicine. In her undergraduate studies, she pursued microbiology, genetics, and biochemistry and was drawn to researching bacterial interactions in infecting hosts. After researching the presence of CRISPR within bacterial immune systems, Charpentier saw the potential use as a gene editing tool which is where Jennifer Doudna supplemented the structural understanding of how the system worked.
Their Inspirational Message for Women
Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier have recognized their role and importance as women in science. Charpentier had hoped that their Nobel Prize win sent a "positive message to the young girls who would like to follow the path of science, and to show them that women in science can also have an impact through the research that they are performing."
In an interview with National Geographic, Jennifer Doudna has expressed her experiences with her self-confidence and wants the community to be “very open about the challenges that women face.” Her advice to give to young women today: “Walk into a room like you own the place. A man would do that without compunction.”
https://www.nobelprize.org/alfred-nobel/alfred-nobels-will/ http://www.pauljanssenaward.com/blogs/emmanuelle-charpentier-phd-and-jennifer-doudna-phd https://www.google.com/url?sa=D&q=https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/10/interview-jennifer-doudna-winner-of-nobel-prize-in-chemistry/%23close&ust=1605229020000000&usg=AOvVaw03fx-b6KnUlrrVv7J2-9v4&hl=en&source=gmail