top of page
  • Raghav Sand

Nobel Prize 2020: Chemistry

Chemistry was the second prize discipline mentioned in Alfred Nobel’s will. It was the most significant science for his own work. Researchers can now change the DNA of all living organisms and plants. DNA is basically an instruction manual for how humans are made up. Using these, researchers can change the DNA of animals, plants and microorganisms with extremely high precision. This technology is contributing to new cancer therapies and may go a long way in curing inherited diseases.


“There is enormous power in this genetic tool, which affects us all. It has not only revolutionised basic science, but also resulted in innovative crops and will lead to ground-breaking new medical treatments,” says Claes Gustafsson, chair of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry.


Emmanuelle Charpentier


Charpentier has been described as attentive and others say that she looks for the discoveries which are out of the blue. Herself, she quotes Louis Pasteur, “Chance favours the prepared mind”. Majority of her work has revolved around pathogenic bacteria.

Emmanuelle Charpentier

Jennifer Doudna


Jennifer Doudna had a strong urge to know things. Growing up, she was intrigued by James Watson’s book The Double Helix. Reading the book, she realised that science is more than just facts. However, when she started to solve scientific mysteries, her attention was not on DNA, but on its molecular sibling: RNA.

Jennifer Doudna

Match made in Puerto Rico


Charpentier and Doudna were introduced to each other while attending a conference in Puerto Rico. The former pitched the idea of working together and after a few failed experiments, they struck gold – the DNA was split in to two parts.


bottom of page