[2016-06-20] The 2016’s Tang Prize in Biopharmaceutical Science recognizes Emmanuelle Charpentier together with Jennifer Doudna and Feng Zhang “for the development of CRISPR/Cas9 as a breakthrough genome editing platform that promises to revolutionize biomedical research and disease treatment”.
Dr. Charpentier’s research focuses on mechanisms of regulation in infection and immunity. Her laboratory strives to understand how RNA and protein molecules work together to control gene expression and biological processes in bacterial pathogens. To identify new molecules and decipher their origins, functions and modes of action at the molecular and cellular level, Dr. Charpentier applies a combination of a wide range of methods, including -omics, genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, physiology as well as cell infection approaches.
Her research in Streptococcus pyogenes has led to fundamental discoveries around the bacterial immune system CRISPR-Cas9. Following the discovery of tracrRNA using a bioinformatics approach, she and her team demonstrated the role of the three components of the CRISPR-Cas9 system in unique mechanisms of i) activation of the system through RNA processing and ii) targeting of foreign DNA in vivo. Only eight weeks ago, her lab published in Nature details of a novel other unique mechanism of a new bacterial defence system named CRISPR-Cpf1, which exhibits dual, RNA and DNA, cleavage activity, an even more simple mechanism than CRISPR-Cas9.
The Tang Foundation stated in its press release that despite the CRISPR “discovery began as an obscure mystery, recent research into the mechanisms has caused an explosion of scientific work. Charpentier was the first to identify the two RNA species”. She showed that the two RNA associate as a duplex of RNAs to guide Cas9 to cleave the target gene, essentially the “find” command in this editing platform. Dr. Charpentier’s pursues her early wish to see the CRISPR-Cas9 technology developed for the treatment of human genetic disorders through the biotech company CRISPR Therapeutics that she has co-founded.
”I am very honoured to have been awarded the Tang Prize”, Charpentier commented. “It is very special when foundations are awarding scientists from other countries in recognition to their scientific performance”.
“I hope that this award also will help to attract more young scientists to microbiology research”, she continued.
Dr. Samuel Yin founded in 2012 an international prize to ”encourage individuals across the globe to chart the middle path to achieving sustainable development by recognizing and supporting contributors for their revolutionary efforts in the four major fields of Sustainable Development, Biopharmaceutical Science, Sinology, and Rule of Law”.
The Tang Prize Foundation has commissioned Academia Sinica to select the Tang Prize Laureates. The awardees will receive the prize, at the award ceremony on September 25 in Taipei.
Press releases from the Tang Prize Foundation: