2016 Canada Gairdner Laureates Awarded Nobel Prize in Chemistry

2016 Canada Gairdner International Award Laureates, Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna were awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry today “for the development of a method for genome editing”.

In 2012, Charpentier and Doudna published the description of a revolutionary new genome editing technology that uses an engineered single-guide RNA together with the DNA-cleaving enzyme Cas9 to readily manipulate the genomic DNA of individual cells. The CRISPR-Cas9 technology has given biologists the equivalent of a molecular surgery kit for routinely disabling, activating or altering genes with high efficiency and precision. Their collective work has led to the breakthrough discovery of DNA cleavage by Cas9, a dual RNA- guided enzyme whose ability to cut double-stranded DNA can be programmed by changing the guide RNA sequence.

Charpentier and Doudna were awarded the Canada Gairdner International Award in 2016 alongside Feng Zhang “For development of CRISPR-CAS as a genome editing tool for eukaryotic cells.” Rodolphe Barrangou and Philippe Horvath were also awarded in 2016 “For establishing and characterizing CRISPR-Cas bacterial immune defense system.”

This CRISPR-Cas9 technology is transforming the fields of molecular genetics, genomics, agriculture and environmental biology. RNA-guided Cas9 complexes are effective genome engineering agents in animals, plants, fungi and bacteria. The CRISPR-Cas9 technology is being used in thousands of laboratories around the world to advance biological research by engineering cells and organisms in precise ways.

Charpentier and Doudna become the 94th and 95th Canada Gairdner laureates to subsequently win the Nobel Prize, joining fellow 2020 Nobelist, Dr. Harvey J Alter (Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine) earlier this week.