“Other technologies sometimes take a couple of decades before they come into regular practice,” Dr. Collins said. Crispr’s rapid rise to near ubiquity, he added, “is remarkable.”
Jinelle Wint, assistant dean for academic affairs at Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City, Mo., described this year’s prize as a “historic win,” both because of its recognition of a revolutionary advancement in biomedical science, as well as its championing of women scientists.
Aspiring female scientists, Dr. Wint said, should be empowered to think “that they, too, can be in the next Nobel Prize winners of the future.”
Following her 2011 and 2012 discoveries, Dr. Charpentier was told numerous times by colleagues that Crispr might be Nobel-worthy. But she had trouble internalizing it.
“It’s something you hear, but you don’t completely connect,” she said in a news conference on Wednesday. When she received the call, “I was very emotional,” she said.
Still, experts noted, women make up a paltry percentage of science laureates. Scientists of color, especially those who identify as Black, Latino, Native or Indigenous, have been almost entirely left out of the process.
Early on, Dr. Charpentier and Dr. Doudna recognized the potential dangers of the technology that they helped usher into the world. Dr. Doudna left her lab and hit the lecture circuit. In 2017, she co-wrote a book, “A Crack in Creation” to describe both the promise and the peril of Crispr. Nevertheless, she was taken by surprise a year later when Dr. He announced his reckless experiment in China.