ASHG Congratulates Geneticists Doudna and Charpentier on Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Published: Wednesday, October 7, 2020, 11:00 a.m. U.S. Eastern Time

Media Contact: Kara Flynn, 202.257.8424,

ROCKVILLE, MD – The American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) applauds and congratulates geneticists Emmanuelle Charpentier, PhD, of the Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens, and Jennifer Doudna, PhD, of the University of California, Berkeley, on their honor of receiving the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Their groundbreaking work has opened dramatic new understanding and capacity to edit DNA accurately and precisely. Their scientific excellence, vision and perseverance have transformed our understanding of how it might be possible to treat and even cure human disease. Importantly, their leadership and vision has spanned both scientific and societal dialogues on gene editing. We congratulate and thank them for their achievements.

“ASHG sees great potential for genome editing technology and the advances it could bring,” said ASHG President Anthony Wynshaw-Boris, MD, PhD. “Today, the seminal work of Drs. Doudna and Charpentier is being refined by human geneticists worldwide to understand the mechanisms and potential consequences of editing and to enable its safe and responsible use. For human health, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other institutions worldwide are exploring how to potentially edit somatic (or non-reproductive cells) to treat and possibly even cure rare and common disease, including cancer.”

Wynshaw-Boris said ASHG and many other organizations believe it is premature to perform germline gene editing (in reproductive cells that cause the edits to be inherited) that culminates in pregnancy. “ASHG has taken a leadership position to assess and inform the many scientific, ethical and policy considerations that must be addressed before any potential application in the human germline, and many questions remain unanswered,” he said.

For the benefit of humanity, science has progressed for centuries in both revolutionary and evolutionary ways. Through continued investigation throughout the scientific community, the revolution in gene editing made possible by Drs. Doudna and Charpentier is now evolving to serve humankind in important ways and reinforces the vital role human genetics plays to advance science, health and society.

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About the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG)

Founded in 1948, the American Society of Human Genetics is the primary professional membership organization for human genetics specialists worldwide. Its nearly 8,000 members include researchers, academicians, clinicians, laboratory practice professionals, genetic counselors, nurses, and others with an interest in human genetics. The Society serves scientists, health professionals, and the public by providing forums to: (1) share research results through the ASHG Annual Meeting and in The American Journal of Human Genetics; (2) advance genetic research by advocating for research support; (3) educate current and future genetics professionals, health care providers, advocates, policymakers, educators, students, and the public about all aspects of human genetics; and (4) promote genetic services and support responsible social and scientific policies. For more information, visit:

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