Emmanuelle Marie Charpentier is a French professor and researcher in microbiology, genetics, and biochemistry. She along with American biochemist Jennifer Doudna won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2020. She was awarded the Nobel prize “for the development of a method for genome editing”.
She was born on 11 December 1968 in Juvisy-Sur-Orge in France. She was brought up in Paris and since her childhood, she has had very diverse interests.
She did her undergraduate studies at the Pierre and Marie Curie University (which is currently known as Sorbonne University). There she studied biochemistry, microbiology, and genetics and earned a degree in biochemistry in 1992.
Post-graduation she attended the Institut Pasteur from 1992 to 1995, and there she was awarded a research doctorate in microbiology. Her project dealt with molecular mechanisms involved in antibiotic resistance.
From 1997 to 1999, Charpentier worked at the New York University Medical Center There she worked as an assistant research scientist in the lab of Pamela Cowin, who was a skin-cell biologist and was working on mammalian gene manipulation. She went on to publish a paper exploring the regulation of hair growth in mice.
She also discovered an RNA molecule involved in the regulation of virulence-factor synthesis in Streptococcus pyogenes and published it in 2004.
Apart from all the other works that she has done, Charpentier is best known for her work of deciphering the molecular mechanisms of a bacterial immune system, called Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR/Cas9), and repurposing it into a tool for genome editing. She won the Nobel Prize for the same.
In particular, she uncovered a novel mechanism for the maturation of a non-coding RNA which is pivotal in the function of CRISPR/Cas9.
Specifically, She demonstrated that a small RNA called tracrRNA is essential for the maturation of crRNA.