Two women, Professor Emmanuelle Charpentier from the Max Planck Unit of the Science of Pathogens in Berlin, and Professor Jennifer Doudna from the University of California, in Berkeley, have been awarded the 2020 Chemistry Nobel Prize. They are the first women to share this prize, which rewards their discovery in genome editing - the ability to cut DNA with a technology that has revolutionised life sciences. The work of the two scientists, while being transformative for basic research and allowing the "code of life" to be rewritten, could also help to treat inherited illnesses.
Such recognition could be a good reason to teach STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) to your daughters (and sons) from the early years. "I wish that this will provide a positive message specifically for young girls who would like to follow the path of science... and to show them that women in science can also have an impact with the research they are performing," said Prof Charpentier. Adding: "This is not just for women, but we see a clear lack of interest in following a scientific path, which is very worrying."
Since the two researchers invented their genetic scissors (called Crispr-Cas 9), the use of their groundbreaking tool has exploded, contributing to many further discoveries in basic research and leading to clinical trials of new cancer therapies currently underway.
The last but not least good news is that the two winners are not that old, which means they can contribute further to this field. Emmanuelle Charpentier was born in 1968 in France and Jennifer Doudna in 1964 in Washington DC before spending much of her childhood in Hilo, Hawaii.
Picture: Emmanuelle Charpentier (L) and Jennifer Doudna (Getty Images, w/Effects)