Awards, People

Jennifer Doudna awarded 2020 Wolf Prize in Medicine

By Robert Sanders

Jennifer Doudna
Jennifer Doudna (UC Berkeley photo by Keegan Houser)
Jennifer Doudna

Jennifer Doudna (UC Berkeley photo by Keegan Houser)

Jennifer Doudna, UC Berkeley professor of molecular and cell biology and of chemistry, has won the 2020 Wolf Prize in Medicine, a prestigious international prize awarded in Israel for unique contributions to humanity.

Doudna, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, shared the prize with colleague Emmanuelle Charpentier, director of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, Germany, for their 2012 invention of the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology.

Doudna was lauded “for revealing the medicine-revolutionizing mechanism of bacterial immunity via RNA-guided genome editing,” according to an announcement by the Wolf Foundation. “This transformative technology has the potential to eradicate previously incurable diseases and revolutionize the fields of genetics, molecular biology and medicine.”

CRISPR-Cas9 is a precisely targeted editing tool that can be used to activate, turn off, alter, repair or remove a gene. This tool is currently used in molecular biology labs around the world, and has the potential to pave the way for new treatments for incurable diseases, revolutionizing medicine.

The award announcement was made in Jerusalem by Israeli President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin, Rabbi Rafi Peretz and Dan Schechtman, acting chair of the Wolf Foundation.

Also announced were Wolf Prizes in art (to Cindy Sherman of New York); agriculture (to Caroline Dean of the John Innes Center in England); physics (to Pablo Jarillo-Herrero at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Allan McDonald of the University of Texas at Austin and D. Rafi Bistritzer of Applied Materials-Israel); and math (to Jacob Eliashberg at Stanford University in California and Simon Donaldson of Stony Brook University in New York and Imperial College in London, England).

The awards ceremony for the winners will be held on June 11, 2020, at the Knesset residence, hosted by the Israeli president and the Minister of Education. Each prize winner will receive a certificate and a monetary award of $100,000.

The Wolf Prizes have been awarded annually since 1978 to renowned scientists and artists who have made a unique contribution to humanity and for peoples’ friendship, regardless of religion, gender, race, geographical location or political position.

Wolf Prize announcement (in Hebrew)