Prof Emmanuelle Charpentier Explores New Opportunities
in Biomedical Gene Therapies
at HKUST 25th Anniversary Distinguished Speakers Series
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) hosted the 25th Anniversary Distinguished Speakers Series on 11 April, featuring Prof Emmanuelle Charpentier, inventor and co-owner of seminal intellectual property comprising the CRISPR-Cas9 technology that is revolutionizing life sciences research.
In her talk titled “The Transformative CRISPR-Cas9 Technology in Genome Engineering: Lessons Learned from Bacteria”, Prof Charpentier, Director of Department of Regulation in Infection Biology at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, told the audience the latest development of her discoveries. She said the RNA-programmable CRISPR-Cas9 system had recently emerged as a transformative technology in biological sciences, allowing rapid and efficient targeted genome editing, chromosomal marking and gene regulation.
“RNA-programmable CRISPR-Cas9 system could be useful as a versatile system for genome editing in cells of all three kingdoms of life for biotechnological, biomedical and gene-therapeutic purposes. The technology could open up whole new opportunities in biomedical gene therapies,” Prof Charpentier said. As demonstrated by a large number of studies published over the last two years, DNA targeting by CRISPR-Cas9 has been quickly and broadly adopted by the scientific community to edit and silence genomes in a large variety of cells and organisms, including human cells, plants and mice.
Prof Charpentier studied biochemistry, microbiology and genetics at the University Pierre and Marie Curie and obtained her PhD in microbiology for her research performed at the Pasteur Institute. She continued her work in the US and then returned to Europe to establish her own research group as an Assistant and Associate Professor at the Max F. Perutz Laboratories of the University of Vienna in Austria. She was then appointed Associate Professor at the Laboratory for Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden at Umeå University in Sweden where she is still active as a Visiting Professor. Between 2013 and 2015, Prof Charpentier was Head of the Department of Regulation in Infection Biology at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, and Professor at the Medical School of Hannover in Germany. In 2015, Prof Charpentier was appointed Scientific Member of the Max Planck Society in Germany and Director at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin, Germany.
Prof Charpentier is Elected Foreign Member of The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Elected Member of the German National Academy of Sciences, Elected Member of the European Academy of Microbiology, and Elected Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology in 2015, amongst others. Prof Charpentier has been awarded prestigious honors including an Honorary Doctorate of the New York University, the 2016 Warren Alpert Foundation Prize, the Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize 2016, French Chevalier Order de la Légion d’Honneur in 2016, World Technology Award for Biotechnology 2015, Leibniz Prize 2016, a 2016 Vallee Visiting Professorship, the 2016 HFSP Nakasone Award and the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award 2016, amongst others.
Distinguished speakers including Nobel Prize winners, corporate leaders, entrepreneurs and key financial policy shapers were invited to speak at the HKUST 25th Anniversary Distinguished Speakers Series. Prof Steven Chu, Nobel Laureate in Physics in 1997 and former US Secretary of Energy, was invited as the inaugural speaker of the series. Other speakers include Mr Jean-Pascal Tricoire, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Schneider Electric; Mr Wang Shi, Founder and Chairman of China Vanke; Prof Dan Shechtman, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry in 2011; Prof Zhong Lin Wang, Hightower Chair in Materials Science and Engineering and Regents’ Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology; Dr Raghuram G Rajan, Governor of the Reserve Bank of India; Mr Pinky Lai, Founder and Design Director of Brainchild Design Group and Brainchild Design Consultants; Dr Qi Lu, Executive Vice President of Microsoft’s Applications and Services Group; Prof Andrew Chi-Chih Yao, Turing Prize winner; Prof Alan J Heeger, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry 2000 and Dr Eric Betzig, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry 2014. More talks are also being lined up.
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