The Inscripta Blog

October 7, 2020

Celebrating a Nobel Prize for CRISPR

The Inscripta team would like to offer our hearty congratulations to Jennifer Doudna at the University of California, Berkeley, and Emmanuelle Charpentier at the Max Planck Institute in Berlin for winning this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their transformational work on the CRISPR gene editing technique.

There are a few reasons this Nobel Prize is especially historic. Of the 185 people who have ever received the chemistry prize, only seven of them — including Doudna and Charpentier — are women. Indeed, this is the first time any Nobel prize for science has been bestowed on two women.

It’s also remarkable for how quickly the prize committee chose to give an award for CRISPR research. Most scientific innovations take decades to be recognized at this level, in large part because it takes that long for the broader impact of any advance to be felt. But in exceptional cases, a scientific discovery is so game-changing that it transforms the research landscape much faster. That’s the situation for CRISPR — specifically for Doudna and Charpentier’s seminal work, much of it reported in this Science paper from 2012.

Since that paper came out, the excitement around CRISPR gene editing has been palpable. The research community rapidly adopted the technique, with many notable scientists adding to it in important ways over time. CRISPR represents the very best in scientific innovation: a revolutionary approach that opens up entirely new opportunities and gives all researchers a chance to build upon it for many different applications. From streamlining workflows for targeted sequencing to improving synthetic biology and overcoming disease, the uses of CRISPR have been dazzling.

Inscripta would never have opened its doors if it weren’t for CRISPR. When our founders looked at this incredible technique, they saw tremendous potential — and realized it would never be possible to fully realize that potential without automating the temperamental procedures involved in performing a CRISPR editing experiment. Our technology, which stands on the shoulders of giants like Doudna and Charpentier, was designed to bring the promise of CRISPR to every biology lab through a smart benchtop system that can run an entire gene editing workflow at the push of a button. Even better, we managed to scale up the process so scientists can make many different kinds of edits across the genome — something that isn’t possible with the manual CRISPR protocols used in gene editing labs today.

Thanks to Doudna, Charpentier, and the many scientists and engineers who have developed CRISPR technology, genome engineering is set to play a significant role in expanding the bioeconomy in the coming years. We believe that automated, scalable genome engineering will help researchers address major challenges such as climate change, antibiotic resistance, emerging infectious diseases, and much more.

Congratulations to the newest Nobel laureates!