In only the second time in history, all five Canada Gairdner International Awards are being given to one topic -- CRISPR-Cas technology.

The Gairdner Foundation announced today that Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator Jennifer A. Doudna of the University of California, Berkeley is a recipient of the prestigious 2016 Canada Gairdner International Award in recognition of her contributions to medical science.

The awards, which are presented annually, recognize scientists responsible for some of the world’s most significant medical discoveries. This year the awards center on two defining themes including the revolutionary Clustered regularly-interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) technique for gene editing and for work in the HIV/AIDS field within Canada and internationally.

Doudna, who became an HHMI investigator in 1997, was honored for development of CRISPR-CAS as a genome-editing tool for eukaryotic cells. She was honored with scientists, Emmanuelle Charpentier of Umea University in Sweden, and Feng Zhang of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. In addition, Rodolphe Barrangou of North Carolina State University, and DuPont Senior Scientist Dr. Philippe Horvath were honored for establishing and characterizing CRISPR-Cas bacterial immune defense system.

The Foundation notes that this is only the second time in its history that all five Canada Gairdner International Awards are being given to one topic -- CRISPR-Cas technology.

The 2016 John Dirks Canada Gairdner Global Health Award goes to Anthony S. Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He is being highlighted for pioneering contributions to our understanding of HIV infections and his extraordinary leadership in bringing successful treatment to the developing world.

The 2016 Canada Gairdner Wightman Award is awarded to Frank Plummer of the Public Health Agency of Canada and the University of Manitoba. He is being given this award for his groundbreaking research in Africa in understanding HIV transmission and his leadership at the Canadian National Microbiology Laboratory with pivotal roles in SARS, influenza and Ebola epidemics.

The seven Gairdner laureates will be coming to Canada in October to visit 22 universities across the country to speak about their research with faculty, trainees, undergraduate and high school students.

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