The Gruber Foundation proudly presents the 2015 Genetics Prize to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna for establishing a framework for universal genome editing.
Charpentier and Doudna discovered that the bacterial enzyme Cas9 is an endonuclease that cuts DNA at sites specified by a guide RNA, and defined biochemically the components required for this reaction. They showed that the sequence of the guide RNA could be modified to target the endonuclease to virtually any site. This provided the mechanism by which bacteria acquire immunity to specific viral infections, allowed introduction of specific mutations at desired sites, and provided the means to transfer efficient Cas9-directed break, repair, and editing to any cell type. This method has broadly enabled genome editing for uses in basic biology, medicine, biotechnology, and agriculture.