MCB Professor of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology Jennifer Doudna has been honored with the 2016 Canada Gairdner International Award. There were four additional recipients, including Doudna's original collaborator, Emmanuelle Charpentier, and three others -- Feng Zhang, Rodolphe Barrangou, and Philippe Horvath.
Awardees were recognized for their roles in discovering and re-engineering the CRISPR-Cas9 system to create today’s most-talked-about genetic tool. By making a fusion of a guide RNA and TRACR RNA, Doudna together with Charpentier showed that the CRISPR/Cas enzyme could be reprogrammed to cut any duplex DNA. This critical insight enabled Dounda and Charpentier, co-winner Feng Zhang, and George Church of Harvard University to show that the nuclease can be used to edit DNA in mammalian cells with astonishing ease.