Pomona College Grad Wins Nobel Prize in Chemistry

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A graduate of Pomona College was one of two women awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry this morning.

Biochemist Jennifer Doudna won the prize, along with Emmanuelle Charpentier of France, “for the development of a method for genome editing,'' according to  the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

The pair discovered the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors in 2012, a discovery the academy said was one of “gene technology's sharpest tools.''

By using the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors, “researchers can change the DNA of animals, plants and microorganisms with extremely high precision'' the academy said in a statement announcing the award. “This technology has had a revolutionary impact on the life sciences, is contributing to new cancer therapies and may make the dream of curing inherited diseases come true.''

The 56-year old Doudna, who was born in Washington, D.C., graduated from Pomona College in 1985 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biochemistry. She later attended Harvard Medical School and earned a Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology in 1989. She currently serves as the Ka Shing Chancellor Chair Professor in the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at UC Berkeley.

Doudna and Charpentier, director of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, Germany, will split the prize worth about $1.1 million.

Photo: Getty Images

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