Published Thursday, October 8, 2020

The Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience
Brainwave newsletter from MPFI

Yesterday we learned that our friend and colleague Emmanuelle Charpentier, Director at the Max Planck Research Unit for the Science of Pathogens, will be honored with the Nobel Prize for Chemistry together with Jennifer Doudna, molecular biologist at the University of California, Berkeley. This marks the first time two women scientists have been awarded the Chemistry Nobel.

This comes a day after we learned Reinhard Genzel, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics will receive the Nobel Prize for Physics for his observations of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way.

It is a joyous day when we can celebrate the work of our colleagues, and it's a reflection of the scientific excellence of the Max Planck Society who now has 20 Nobel Prize-winning scientists. This is only the second time in the history of Max Planck that two different Nobel Prizes are awarded to our researchers in the same year.

We at Max Planck Florida hope you enjoy reading more about these ground-breaking researchers. If you have not done so already, I hope you choose to support our curiosity-driven science with a generous gift, so we can continue to impact the future of scientific discovery.

Please stay safe and take care of yourselves, your families, and each other.
 David Fitzpatrick
 Scientific Director & CEO

Emmanuelle Charpentier Honored with Nobel Prize

Method Improves the Precision and Speed of Genome Editing
Emmanuelle Charpentier Honored with Nobel Prize For Chemistry

Max Planck Florida joins the chorus of congratulations for Emmanuelle Charpentier who will receive the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her groundbreaking work on the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology.
Emmanuelle will share the prize with Jennifer A. Doudna, and they will make history as the only science Nobel ever won by two women. You may have heard Dr. Charpentier speak as part of MPFI's Science Meets Music Series in 2017 (pictured above with Scientific Directors David Fitzpatrick and Ryohei Yasuda). She was also a keynote speaker at our 2017 Sunposium Conference and a guest on MPFI's Neurotransmission Podcast.

In an interview recorded shortly after the news broke, Emmanuelle tells of her surprise saying it didn't completely hit her until Goran K. Hansson, the secretary-general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, called her. "I was very emotional, I have to say," says Charpentier, who added "this award obviously underlines the importance and relevance of fundamental research in the field of microbiology” and "it’s not about publishing in high-impact journals. It’s about solid work.” 

Considered a recent revolution in the fields of medicine, biotechnology, and agriculture, the CRISPR-Cas9 technology is a powerful and versatile tool to specifically and efficiently modify any genetic sequence in the cells of living organisms. The CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology has applications across many diverse fields of science, including human and veterinary medicine, agriculture, and biotechnology. Its broad applicability, versatility, and ease of use are the reasons that it has been so rapidly adopted by the scientific community. While the technology is already waiting in the wings to be marketed in agriculture, the mission in the field of medicine over the next years will be to translate it into safe and effective therapies for serious human diseases for which there are currently no treatment options.
Further Links
Emmanuelle Charpentier Podcast
Listen to Emmanuelle Charpentier's Interview on Max Planck Florida's Neurotransmissions Podcast
Dr. Charpentier shares the story behind her research, as well as the potential for CRISPR/Cas9 in therapies for diseases ranging from cancer to neurodegeneration. Listen Here
Portrait of Emmanuelle Charpentier
A Portrait of Emmanuelle Charpentier: An Artist in Gene Editing
Sometimes a single discovery can change a whole life. For Emmanuelle Charpentier, deciphering the functioning of an enzyme previously known only to experts was such a moment. Read More
Reinhard Genzel Receives Nobel in Physics

Research Spans Both Galactic and Extragalactic Astrophysics
Reinhard Genzel Receives Nobel Prize for Physics  

Reinhard Genzel director of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany, will share half the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics with UCLA professor Andrea Ghez “for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the center of our galaxy.” The other half of the 2020 prize goes to the UK theoretical physicist Roger Penrose “for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity.”

In 2001, Reinhard Genzel and his group took a closer look at the heart of our Milky Way in infrared light, some 26,000 light years away. The researchers mapped the motion of stars in the central star cluster with high spatial resolution. They also observed bursts of gas from the immediate vicinity of the black hole and a gravitational redshift caused by this behemoth in the light of a passing star. The Nobel Prize for Physics now honors Reinhard Genzel and his team for these groundbreaking discoveries in astrophysics.
Further Links
Reinhard Genzel Explains His Research
Reinhard Genzel Explains His Latest Research on Supermassive Black Holes
Genzel is the architect of the 30-year program that led to the discovery of the Schwarzschild precession around the black hole at the heart of our Milky Way.  Watch the Video.
Dance Around The Heart of Our Milky Way
Dance Around The Heart Of Our Milky Way
The star S2 orbits the supermassive black hole on a rosette-shaped orbit and confirms Einstein's theory. Read More

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