“We had a sense that we were onto something big,” says Jennifer Doudna, as she recalls the start of her “curiosity-driven” research into CRISPR and reflects on the pace of the field today, in this short conversation with Adam Smith. Speaking from her patio in the early morning in Palo Alto, Doudna describes how she was woken by a call from a journalist: “I assumed she was calling me to ask me to comment on somebody else winning the Nobel Prize!” The award of the prize to her and Emmanuelle Charpentier will, she hopes, be an encouragement to other women. “Sometimes,” she comments, “there’s a sense that no matter what they do, their work will not be recognised in the way it would be if they were a man.”
In this interview recorded shortly after news broke of her Nobel Prize in Chemistry, Emmanuelle Charpentier tells Adam Smith of her surprise at receiving the call from Stockholm, despite considerable speculation that it might be coming her way. She speaks of the “explosion of knowledge and publications” that the CRISPR field has generated, the motivations behind her “brief but intense” collaboration with her co-Laureate Jennifer Doudna, the need for societal involvement in the conversation about the applications of technology and the importance of studying the microbiological world.