5 researchers share $500,000 prize for work on gene editing

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How gene editing works

Dr. Robert Fraley, Monsanto’s Chief Scientific Officer explains how gene editing works and why it is being developed.

Five researchers will share a $500,000 medical prize for their roles in developing a groundbreaking gene-editing tool that lets scientists alter the DNA of living cells.

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The recipients of the annual Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research were announced Tuesday. They are being recognized for their contributions related to the development of the tool, called CRISPR-Cas9.

The faster, cheaper and simpler gene-editing tool has sparked a boom in research over the past five years. Researchers using the technology recently edited the genes of piglets to rid them of viruses harmful to humans, a step that could lead to viable organ transplants from animals.

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The recipients are: Emmanuelle Charpentier of the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Germany; Jennifer Doudna, University of California, Berkeley; Luciano Marraffini, The Rockefeller University, New York City; Francisco J.M. Mojica, University of Alicante, Spain; Feng Zhang, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“The Albany Prize recognizes that such a significant development in science is brought forth by a community of scientists, and, therefore, we felt it was appropriate to name a larger number of recipients than in the past,” said Vincent Verdile, dean of Albany Medical College.

The five researchers will receive the award at a ceremony Sept. 27 in Albany, New York.