Awarding the achievements of the world’s most innovative people is only one part of the Tang Prize; more important is that it communicates their accomplishments to the general public. One of the joint laureates of the 2016 Tang Prize in Biopharmaceutical Science, Jennifer A Doudna of UC Berkeley, was recognized by the prize for her role as one of the developers of the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing platform, a tool which gives genome editing a new level of ease and precision. The new technology has already proven itself as a viable option to cure diseases that have known genetic causes, and has a promising future in countless applications.
At a time when business is looking to find commercial opportunities for CRISPR/Cas9, Doudna has called for a rational dialogue on the ethical and social issues surrounding this newfound power to edit the genes of any organism to an unprecedented degree of accuracy. She notes, knowing the power of this new tool, that “we need to take a prudent path forward in the way that we employ this technology.” Finding the right balance between the benefits of the technology and the resulting welfare of humanity will be an important equilibrium to strike.
For more, watch Doudna’s TED talk “How CRISPR lets us edit our DNA” here: