Today (April 23) in Chicago, Tang Prize laureate in Biopharmaceutical Science Emmanuelle Charpentier delivered the third annual Tang Prize lecture at Experimental Biology’s 2017 meeting to a packed house. Her talk told the history of the gene-editing technology CRISPR/Cas9, as well as its powerful future, in “The bacterial CRISPR-Cas9 system: a game changer in genome engineering.”
This “game changer” in gene editing gives labs everywhere a no-nonsense tool that works with precision and ease; for the history books, it will likely mark a new paradigm for life on Earth. Since essentially anything with DNA can be altered to suit specific needs, the system’s applications are wide-reaching: agriculture, drug development, and disease prevention being just a handful.
The lecture was hosted by professor at UC San Diego Shu Chien and was attended by a number of young graduate students and post-docs who were eager to understand the finer points of the new editing technology. Many stayed on post-lecture to ask questions, some technical, some general. Even after the lecture ended, many of the enthusiastic students lined up to chat with Charpentier, ask questions, or request a picture or autograph.
Her work has won her the admiration of students as well as many of the field’s most notable awards, including the Tang Prize in 2016. In fact, just prior to arriving in Chicago for EB, Charpentier received the Japan Prize with her long-time colleague, Jennifer Doudna, both of whom played essential roles in piecing together the necessary parts of the gene editing system.
The Tang Prize Lecture at Experimental Biology is part of a ten-year cooperation in educational promotion between the two organizations, consisting of a yearly or bi-yearly lecture delivered by recent recipients of the Tang Prize in Biopharmaceutical Science. This year was a particularly large draw, with nearly 1,200 people in the lecture room and lines of interested event goers spilling out into the hallway.
Visit the Tang Prize website for more information on future lectures, including the 2018 Experimental Biology lecture to be delivered by Jennifer Doudna and the 2017 FEBS lecture with Zhang Feng.