Berkeley’s Jennifer Doudna Wins a $3 Million Breakthrough Prize

On November 9, the 2015 Breakthrough Prizes were awarded at a Silicon Valley gala hosted by Seth MacFarlane. The Breakthrough Prizes aim to celebrate scientists and generate excitement about the pursuit of science as a career. The awards, which come with a $3 million prize, are given out in the life sciences, fundamental physics, and mathematics. The prizes are awarded by a foundation set up by some of the major movers and shakers of Silicon Valley, including Art Levinson of Apple Inc., Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, and Sergey Brin, a founder of Google.

Among the winners in the life sciences was Jennifer Doudna, the Li Ka Shing Professor of Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and Emmanuelle Charpentier of the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research and Umeå University in Sweden. The two women were honored for harnessing an ancient mechanism of bacterial immunity into a powerful and general technology for editing genomes, with wide-ranging implications across biology and medicine. Each woman received a $3 million award.

Earlier this year, Professor Doudna won the Jacob Heskel Gabbay Award in Biotechnology and Medicine from Brandeis University, the $100,000 Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research given by Johnson & Johnson Inc., and the $100,000 Lurie Prize in Biomedical Sciences from the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health.

Dr. Doudna is a graduate of Pomona College in Claremont, California. She holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University.

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