Tang Prize Foundation CEO Dr. Jenn-Chuan Chern paid a visit to one of this year’s winners of the Tang Prize in Biopharmaceutical Science, Jennifer Doudna, Ph.D., on July 6 in the United States. Doudna said it was an honor to receive the prize this year and that she is looking forward to attending the award ceremony in Taiwan this September. She also gladly agreed to visit Taipei First Girls High School during her stay and speak to students there, hoping to combat the stereotype that women can’t be scientists. Doudna would also like to share with the students her journey in scientific research and encourage more young women to jump into that world.
Listed as one of the “100 Most Influential People” by Time magazine, Doudna spoke of a previous visit to the Academia Sinica. She acknowledged the high level of biopharmaceutical research in Taiwan and is well aware of the field’s rapid developments on the island. Doudna looks forward to further exchanges with colleagues when she arrives and wants to encourage more young people to engage in scientific research that benefits all members of society.
Currently serving as a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Doudna said that her interests in science began back in childhood. Her greatest satisfaction comes while in the laboratory working on various problems. Doudna’s discovery of a new method for editing genomic DNA, the CRISPR/Cas9 technique, has helped simplify what was once an incredibly complicated process, making it is as easy as editing a document on a computer. The streamlined technique has given scientists a previously unknown level of precision when altering the genomes of biological life. This technique possesses massive potential in practical applications and brings hope that humankind can turn a new page on the fight to cure a wide array of diseases.
Chern noted that California is a global powerhouse when it comes to higher education and research and that it has become a home for innovation and leading-edge industry development. According to the US News and World Report “Best Global University Rankings” published in October, 2015, California boasts four universities in the top ten, with UC Berkeley coming in at number three. UC San Diego, renowned in the world of biopharmaceutical science, was ranked nineteen. UC Berkeley has the distinction of being the top-ranked public university, and has been home to seven Nobel laureates. As recipient of the second biennial Tang Prize in Biopharmaceutical Science, Doudna has brought further honor and distinction to higher education in California.
The second biennial Tang Prize for Biopharmaceutical Science is shared by three joint winners. In addition to Doudna, the prize has also been awarded to Emmanuelle Charpentier, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, and Feng Zhang, Assistant Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. All three laureates will be attending the award ceremony and related events in Taiwan this September.