Emmanuelle Charpentier is a French biochemist, microbiologist and geneticist. She studied at the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris, receiving a degree in biochemistry in 1991, and obtained her PhD in microbiology at the Pasteur Institute there in 1995.
Between 1996 and 2002 she continued her research in the United States, first in New York and then in Memphis. Returning to Europe she established her own group at the University of Vienna, where, in 2006, she became Lab Head at the Max F. Perutz Laboratories.
In 2009 she moved to the University of Umeå in Sweden, where she established a project on the CRISPR sequences. Charpentier discovered the essential role of the so-called trans-activating CRISPR RNA (tracrRNA) molecule in the immune systems in bacteria. These results led to a collaboration with Jennifer Doudna and to the demonstration, in 2012, of the potential of the CRISPR-Cas9 system for gene editing.
After Umeå, Charpentier moved to Germany and since 2015 has been Director of the Max Plank Institute for Infection Biology in Berlin. For her work she has received a large number of prizes, including the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, the Warren Alpert Foundation Prize and the Novozymes Prize.
Two years after sharing the 2018 Kavli Prize in Nanoscience for her work with CRISPR-based genome editing, she received the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for this scientific breakthrough.
Listen to Emmanuelle Charpentier on Alan Alda's Clear+Vivid podcast:
Emmanuelle Charpentier life story
Read the life story of Kavli Prize Laureate Emmanuelle Charpentier: