French, American biochemist win Spain’s Princess of Asturias Award
The panel of the prestigious Spanish award remarked that Charpentier and Doudna pioneered a technique called CRISPR-Cas9, which functions like a molecular scissor that splices DNA strands with high precision.
The jury emphasised the “revolution in molecular biology” achieved by both biochemists and praised their innovative work in “modifying genes” which will enable the augmentation of genomes.
Charpentier, 47, is a microbiologist who specialises in infectious disease, while Doudna, 51, is a professor of molecular biology at the University of California, Berkeley.
It is the first time the prize, which bears the name of the heir to the Spanish throne, has been called the “Princess” of Asturias Award, as it was changed from “Prince” when Princess Leonor’s father, King Felipe VI, ascended the throne last year.
The Princess of Asturias Awards are a series of annual prizes awarded in Spain by the Princess of Asturias Foundation in eight categories: arts, communication and humanities, international cooperation, literature, social sciences, sports, technical and scientific research, and concord.
Each winner receives a prize of 50,000 euros (roughly $56,000) and a replica statuette designed by the late Spanish sculptor Joan Miro.