Alpert Prize Recognizes CRISPR Pioneers

Alpert Prize Recognizes CRISPR PioneersFive scientists, VU researcher Virginijus Šikšnys among them, share award for elucidating bacterial defense system and recognizing its utility for gene editing.

On 9 March, 2016 in Boston, the Warren Alpert Foundation Prize will be awarded to five scientists for their remarkable contributions to the understanding of the CRISPR bacterial defense system and the revolutionary discovery that it can be adapted for genome editing.

The recipients of the award are: Rodolphe Barrangou from North Carolina State University, Philippe Horvath from DuPont in France, Jennifer Doudna from the University of California, Berkeley, Emmanuelle Charpentier from the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin and Virginijus Šikšnys from Vilnius University in Lithuania.

“The game-changing insights achieved by these five scientists led to a technique that has been swiftly embraced across the globe, altering the way we study and understand eukaryotic genetics and offering enormous potential for developing new gene- and cell-based therapies, including treatment strategies for previously intractable genetic diseases,” said Jeffrey S. Flier, dean of the faculty of medicine at Harvard Medical School and chair of the Warren Alpert Foundation Prize Scientific Advisory Committee.

“It is great a privilege to be among such outstanding current and former awardees of the Warren Alpert Foundation. This prize makes my work even more enjoyable and challenging. I am really glad that my research, aimed in the beginning on a very basic question of how bacteria protect themselves against phages, paved the way for the development of novel tools for genome-editing applications”, – Virginijus Šikšnys said.

The Warren Alpert Foundation Prize recognizes scientists whose research has led to the prevention, cure or treatment of human diseases or disorders and constitutes a seminal scientific finding that holds great promise for ultimately changing our understanding of, or ability to treat, disease.

Each year the Warren Alpert Foundation receives 30 to 50 nominations for the Alpert Prize from scientific leaders worldwide. Prize recipients are selected by the foundation’s scientific advisory board, composed of distinguished biomedical scientists and chaired by the dean of Harvard Medical School.

This year’s recipients will share an unrestricted award of $500,000 and will be honored at a symposium at Harvard Medical School on Oct. 6.

The late Warren Alpert, a philanthropist dedicated to advancing biomedical research, established the prize in 1987. To date, the foundation has awarded more than $3 million to 54 individuals. Eight honorees have also received a Nobel Prize

Previous honorees were from China, US, Austria, Canada, Germany, France.

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