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Artist's impression of DNA

A pair of scientists — Jennifer A. Doudna, a biochemist at the University of California at Berkeley, and Emmanuelle Charpentier, a French microbiologist — won the 2020 Nobel Prize in chemistry Wednesday for their work developing a revolutionary gene-editing tool that can change the DNA of plants and animals with extraordinary precision. The technique, called CRISPR -Cas9, is already being used as a cancer therapy and to cure inherited diseases.

“This year’s prize is about rewriting the code of life,” said Goran K. Hansson, secretary general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

This was the first time two women jointly won a Nobel in chemistry. “I wish that this will provide a positive message, specifically, to young girls who would like to follow the path of science,” Charpentier told reporters Wednesday morning.

“I’m over the moon, I’m in shock, I couldn’t be happier,” Doudna said at a University of California at Berkeley news conference. She said she and Charpentier are “waving to each other across the Atlantic right now.”

Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, said...

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