MFPL: Award for Emmanuelle Charpentier

Congratulations to former MFPL Group Leader Emmanuelle Charpentier to the Austrian Decoration for Science and Art! The prestigious honour was awarded on 3 October 2018 in Vienna by Austrian President Alexander van der Bellen.

In his speech, the president emphasized the role of or arts and sciences for Austria and urged to give these fields a greater role in society. The award is one of the highest official decorations, given to extraordinary artistic and scientific achievements.

Emmanuelle was a principal investigator at MFPL from 2002 to 2009, where she took her first steps in developing CRISPR/Cas9. Considered a revolution in genome editing, the CRISPR-Cas9 technology is a powerful and versatile tool to specifically and efficiently modify any genetic sequence in the cells of living organisms.

In 2011, Emmanuelle Charpentier’s laboratory identified an essential component of the CRISPR-mediated viral defense mechanism, the tracrRNA, which subsequently led to a seminal publication in the journal Nature. The system was then developed into a precise gene-editing tool that can correct defective DNA. The details of the DNA targeting mechanism and the guidelines how to use it were published in the journal Science in 2012 within the frame of a collaboration with Jennifer Doudna’s laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley.

Currently Emmanuelle is the Founding and Acting Director of the Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens, Scientific Director at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology and Honorary Professor at Humboldt University, Berlin.