Emmanuelle Charpentier: A Nobel Journey in Genetics and Genome Editing - Paper Example

Published: 2024-01-26
Emmanuelle Charpentier: A Nobel Journey in Genetics and Genome Editing - Paper Example
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Genetics Science
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 988 words
9 min read

Early life, Education, and Career

Prof. Emmanuelle Charpentier is a French biologist, biochemist, geneticist, and microbiologist. She was born in Juvisy-sur-Orge on 11 December 1968 (Gruber Foundation, n.d). Her mother was a psychiatrist, while her father was a park manager. When she was a young girl, she developed an interest in pure science and mathematics while living with her parent. When she was young, her father used to teach her the names of the plants using Latin.

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For her undergraduate and graduate studies, Emmanuelle Charpentier attended Pierre and Marie Curie University (Gruber Foundation, n.d). In 1991 she received her degree in biology and finally doctor of philosophy in 1995 after specializing in microbiology. She did graduate research at the Pasteur Institute from 1992 to 1995, a non-profit organization that focuses on studying diseases, vaccines, micro-organism, and biology. She had a chance to teach at Pierre and Marie Curie University. The institute was named in honor of Louis Pasteur, who invented the vaccine against rabies, microbial fermentation, and pasteurization, making a greater contribution to modern medicine.

She was obsessed with the research that laboratory-made her felt to be at home. She was curious, intelligent, knowledge-driven, team leader, and practical in every research she was undertaking (Gruber Foundation, n.d). She was enjoyed turning any scientific discoveries into practice to help society. While at Pasteur institute, Charpentier carried out an investigation on a molecular mechanism that was behind antibiotic resistance. Her focus to study bacterial pathogens and their interaction with their environment and hosts grew due to the availability of molecular and cellular technologies in the early 1990s to improve medicine.

Charpentier invented a tool that facilitated the study of genetics in bacterial pathogens (Gruber Foundation, n.d). She developed a transgenic mouse model that could be utilized to study proteins that involve signal transduction and cell-cell adhesion. After graduation from Pierre and Marie Curie University in her post-graduate studies, Charpentier traveled to the United States of America in 1996. While in the United States of America, she was privileged to hold a research associate position from the different institutions, including the Skirball Institute of Biomolecular, New York university’s Langone Medical Center, and the Rockefeller University. St. Jude children’s Research Hospital in Memphis is also a place that presented her with a chance to conduct her research.

Charpentier relocated back to Europe in 2002, where she went to Vienna, Austria. At the University of Vienna in Austria, she established her research group at Max f. laboratories, which focused on the field of microbiology. At Umea University in Sweden, she had a chance to be appointed to a position of associate professor and at the same time as Guest Professor for Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden at the laboratory. She was appointed in 2013 as the head of the department for infection research at Helmholtz center. In Germany, she was also appointed a professor at the Medical school of Hannover.

While at her laboratory at the University of Vienna, she developed an interest in studying regulatory mechanisms that are usually associated with small ribonucleic acid in bacteria. Upon relocating to Umea University in Sweden, she was focused on developing a CRISPR-Cas9 project with tracrRNA taking her attention while in the laboratory (Charpentier, 2015). This kind of RNA was so unique that it was located in the vicinity of an odd RNA. She found out that when a virus attacks a bacterium, the virus's genetic identity sequence is captured by the CRISPR sequence. When the virus attack again, this sequence is used to repel the attack. She further found that CRISPR-Cas systems of bacteria have become more evolved. In 2011, she took a further step of publishing a paper that identified a critical role the tracrRNA performs in ensuring the development of virus defense, which is CRISPR-mediated.

While at a conference in 2011 in Puerto Rico, Charpentier met Jennifer Doudna, a structural biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who was interested in understanding how the CRISPR system works, however, in terms of the structural perspective (Charpentier, 2018). She decided to join hands together to further their research. Charpentier said, “I wanted to have the structure of the Cas9 complex to investigate the possibilities to reduce the system to its minimal and identify the position of all active domains in the structure of the complex. We were complementary.” This shows that she was committed to understanding the research in the field of molecular biology.

In 2012, Doudna and Charpentier published an article in the field of molecular genetics. The article highlighted that when viruses attack the bacteria for the second time, their genetic sequences are stored in the CRISPR sequence, which opens an exciting and new approach to genome editing. This technique follows the surgical-like procedure for adding or removing DNA at the location which is being targeted. Their findings are being applied in many laboratories to develop advanced treatments for related genetic disorders and human diseases.


The life of Prof. Emmanuelle Charpentier has been very successful, all along with numerous awards internationally coming with acknowledgments. These awards include the Dr. Paul Jansen award, the Goran Gustafsson Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Science, the Grand Prix Jean-Pierre Lecocq from the French Academy of Science, the Jacob Heskel Gabbay Award in Biotechnology and Medicine, and an Alexander von Humboldt Professorship. According. According to (FARHUD et al., 2020), She was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry 2020 together with Jennifer A. Doudna to develop a technique in genome editing as one of the greatest inventions of the 21st century.


Charpentier, E. (2015). CRISPRCas9: how research on a bacterial RNAguided mechanism opened new perspectives in biotechnology and biomedicine. EMBO molecular medicine, 7(4), 363-365.

Charpentier, E. (2018). Spotlight on… Emmanuelle Charpentier. FEMS microbiology letters, 365(4), fnx271.

FARHUD, D. D., & ZARIF-YEGANEH, M. (2020). CRISPR Pioneers Win 2020 Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Iranian Journal of Public Health, 49(12), 2235-2239.

Gruber Foundation (nd). Emmanuelle Charpentier. https://gruber.yale.edu/genetics/emmanuelle-charpentier

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