The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020 - for a discovery of a tool which will change society

illustration of CRISPR

The discovery of the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors, is awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The possibilities seem endless and has already sparked a revolution in both biological and medical research. The CRISPRideas Theme will discuss how the discovery will impact society in a symposium held on October 13th 2020.

It was only a few years back that Emanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna discovered one of gene technologies´ sharpest tools – the CRISPR /Cas9 genetic scissors- for which they are now awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020.

The importance of their discovery and the implications for the future are difficult to overestimate and even to survey, as the tool can be used to modify genomes of almost any plant or animal. Thus it can be used for everything from modifying crops, creating new biofuel and new medicines to finding treatments to hereditary diseases.

The genetic scissors have already sparked a revolution in both biological and medical research and with this an ethical debate of enormous proportions; How far can this tool take us, and how far should scientists go? What happens for example if we modify embryos and modified genes, as a result, are passed on to the next generations?

We are only beginning to understand the seemingly endless possibilities and the risks that follow, but it is clear that the implications for society as a whole are immense.

Understanding this, how the new genome-editing techniques will change our society, has driven the work of a current Theme at the Pufendorf IAS. For the past year, the Theme CRISPRideas have investigated how scientific knowledge, values and norms have impacted the understanding and views of experts, the general public and various stakeholders. They have discusses scientific breakthroughs and their implications for research and the public.

The CRISPRideas Theme will  present their work and further the discussions together with invited international experts in a Symposium (on site and online) on the 13th of October. The symposium is titled “New genome editing technologies for medicine and agriculture – implications for society”.

Read more about the Theme CRISPRideas at the Pufendorf IAS here

Download the program for the Symposium “New genome editing technologies for medicine and agriculture – implications for society” here (PDF 2,2 MB)