The 2020 Nobel Prize of Chemistry recognizes Emmanuelle Charpentier, Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens, Berlin, Germany, and Jennifer Doudna, University of California, Berkeley, USA, “for the development of a method for genome editing.”
Every year, the University of Michigan Complex Systems invites U-M faculty to comment about the Nobel Prizes awards. In this recorded lecture (37 min.), “The CRISPR Craze: Scientific Breakthroughs Come to the Prepared when Least Expected,” Nils Walter, Ph.D., Francis S. Collins Professor of Chemistry, Biophysics and Biological Chemistry, co-director of the University of Michigan Center for RNA Biomedicine, presents the history of the CRISPR discovery.
Starting in 1987 in Japan, CRISPR systems have been observed and studied independently and at times simultaneously by several research groups around the globe (Spain, France, The Netherlands, USA, Sweden, Austria, and Germany). This led the foundation for the 2012 breakthrough by Charpentier and Doudna to harness a CRISPR system (Cas-9) to cleave and modify DNA at specific sites. This genetic editing discovery is currently revolutionizing therapeutics and foundational research, while raising essential ethical questions.