TAIPEI, TAIWAN–A noted revolutionary figure in genetic editing, Emmanuelle Charpentier will deliver the third annual Tang Prize lecture at Experimental Biology’s 2017 meeting. She will present her talk, “The bacterial CRISPR-Cas9 system: a game changer in genome engineering,” on April 23 at Chicago’s McCormick Place.
CRISPR has been described as a “game changer” in gene editing. In the lab, it is a no-nonsense tool that works with precision and ease; but in 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.
While now used in thousands of labs worldwide, CRISPR/Cas9 had humble beginnings. These Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) had long eluded explanation ever since their discovery in 1987. It was only after the turn of the century that the repeats were discovered to be snapshots of viral DNA, the recognition part of a bacterial defense system. Several labs around the world then “hacked” that defense system, making it a programmable gene-editing platform with the ease and accessibility of a word processor.
Charpentier, who is currently serving as director and scientific member at the Max Planck Institute of Infection Biology, worked out how the activity of Cas9 (CRISPR associated protein 9) depended on two tracrRNA (trans-activating RNA) species. Working with Jennifer Doudna at Berkeley, Charpentier demonstrated that these two RNAs can be linked together to become a single guide RNA that could be programmed to find, cut, and remove a target gene.
The work won Charpentier numerous awards, including the Breakthrough Prize in 2014 and the Tang Prize in 2016, which she shared with Doudna and Feng Zhang. In 2013, she founded CRISPR Therapeutics along with Rodger Novak and Shaun Foy, which has since attracted millions in investment.
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. It is intended to build on the foundation of the prize field, says Foundation CEO Jenn-Chuan Chern, by giving it a real-world platform for the sharing of new and forward-looking ideas within the scientific community.
Feng Zhang, who shared the Tang Prize in 2016 with Charpentier and Doudna, will also deliver a Tang Prize lecture, at the Federation of European Biochemical Societies (FEBS) congress on September 12, 2017, in Jerusalem. And Jennifer Doudna is scheduled to deliver the Tang Prize lecture at EB in 2018. Visit the Tang Prize website below for more information on these and other upcoming lectures: www.tang-prize.org
About Tang Prize
Dr. Samuel Yin, chairman of Ruentex Group, founded the Tang Prize in December of 2012 as an extension of the supreme value his family placed on education. Harkening back to the golden age of the Tang Dynasty in Chinese history, the Tang Prize seeks to be an inspiring force for people working in all corners of the world.
Source: Tang Prize Foundation