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Statement on the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020

NSF-supported basic research helped lead to CRISPR’s beginnings

Often referred to as
Often referred to as "genetic scissors," CRISPR is a powerful gene editing tool. Credit: © Johan Jarnestad/The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

The Nobel Assembly has awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Jennifer A. Doudna of the University of California, Berkeley, and Emmanuelle Charpentier, of the Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens, in Berlin, “for the development of a method for genome editing.” The U.S. National Science Foundation has long supported Doudna, beginning with its Alan T. Waterman award in 2000, as well as other researchers in her CRISPR lab. Doudna, an advocate for fundamental research, has noted how CRISPR started as a [i]basic science, curiosity-driven project.[/i]

NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan issued the following statement on the Nobel announcement:

CRISPR-Cas9 is opening new and exciting worlds of possibility in fields as wide-ranging as bioengineering, medicine, agriculture -- even manufacturing. Researchers are still working to understand the full potential of this important discovery and tool. The teams behind this groundbreaking discovery have uncovered and developed fundamental science that will result in applications over several decades. NSF has long supported the research of Jennifer Doudna and her CRISPR lab with grants including our prestigious Alan T. Waterman award. We congratulate Nobel Laureates Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier on this amazing achievement.

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2020 budget of $8.3 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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