Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna win Nobel Prize for Chemistry

The 2020 Nobel Prize for chemistry has been awarded to two female scientists for discovering “genetic scissors”, described as a “tool for rewriting the code of life”.

The joint award went to Emmanuelle Charpentier from the Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens in Berlin, and Jennifer A. Doudna from the University of California, Berkeley.

The technique means researchers can change the DNA of animals, plants and microorganisms “with extremely high precision”, the Nobel committee said.

The award, announced by a panel at the Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, comes with a gold medal and prize money of 10 million krona (€950,000).

The award has frequently honoured research which has led to practical applications in use today. Last year’s prize rewarded three chemists whose brains were behind the lithium-ion battery, which power mobile phones, laptops, electric cars and many other devices.

On Monday the Nobel Prize for physiology and medicine was awarded to two Americans, Harvey J. Alter and Charles M. Rice, and also to British-born scientist Michael Houghton for discovering the Hepatitis C virus.

The following day the physics prize went to Britain’s Roger Penrose, Reinhard Genzel of Germany and Andrea Ghez of the United States for their work in unravelling the mysteries of cosmic black holes.

Nobel prizes are named after their creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel (1833-1896).

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