Home » News » CRISPR U.S. scientist “thrilled” to receive Spain’s Asturias prize


U.S. biochemist Jennifer Doudna said Thursday that she was “thrilled” to receive the 2015 Princess of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research for developing a technology that allows genes to be edited and nucleic acids to be manipulated with great precision.

“This award emphasizes the importance of science in society and for helping improve the human condition. I hope that (this award) inspires the work of the coming generation of scientists,” she told Efe.

Doudna and French biochemist Emmanuelle Charpentier, who shared the prize, are pioneers in applying a technology known as CRISPR-Cas9 that acts like a molecular pair of scissors to cut and replace DNA components with great precision.

The 19-member prize jury credited Charpentier and Doudna with a “revolution in molecular biology.”

Charpentier, 47, is a microbiologist who specializes in infectious disease, while Doudna, 51, is a professor of molecular biology at the University of California, Berkeley.

“This technology will be used in the future to treat and even cure genetic diseases. It will also contribute to accelerating the pace of biological investigation and allow rapid advances in the fields of synthetic and agricultural biology,” Doudna said.

The researcher received notice that she had been selected to receive the award while she was waiting for a delayed flight at the San Francisco airport, and she said learning of the honor was an “especially nice” experience.

Established in 1981 as the Prince of Asturias prizes and presented in eight categories, the awards are regarded as the Ibero-American world’s equivalent of the Nobels.

Along with 50,000 euros (about $57,000) and a statuette based on a sculpture by Joan Miro, each winner receives a diploma and an insignia bearing the Princess of Asturias Foundation’s coat of arms.

The honors were originally conferred on behalf of Spain’s then-Crown Prince Felipe.

With his elevation last year following the abdication of his father, King Juan Carlos, the prizes now bear the title Princess of Asturias, referring to Leonor, oldest child of King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia and the new heir to the throne. EFE


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