The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020 was announced on October 07, to be awarded jointly to Emanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna for the discovery of the CRISPR Cas9 system of gene editing.
The Society for Promotion of Science of Science & Technology in India (SPSTI), in association with the Chandigarh Chapter of the National Academy of Sciences, India conducted an online awareness lecture on the above topic on Saturday, December 05, 2020 at 11.00 AM. The lecture was delivered by Dr. Mahak Sharma, Associate Professor & Welcome Trust/DBT Senior Fellow, Dept. of Biological Sciences, IISER Mohali. This was the sixth expository lecture in the series of lectures on Nobel Prizes, 2020. The lecture was attended by more than 200participants on the zoom and about 721 viewed the same on the Facebook page of SPSTI.
The session steered with the introduction by Prof. Keya Dharamvir. The opening remarks were presented by Prof. Arun K. Grover, Former Vice Chancellor of Panjab University and Vice President of SPSTI who spoke about the series of expository lectures covering each of the 2020 Nobel prizes and series of lecture on Abel Prizes in Mathematics and Turing Award in Computer Science. Ms. Rajani Bhalla introduced the speaker, Dr. Mahak Sharma.
Dr. Mahak began her presentation from basics of gene editing explaining its concept and importance. She explained the process of central dogma and its importance in process of gene editing. Mentioning about Dr. Mojica, computational biologist, she explained how he discovered the Clustered Regular Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) while sequencing the DNA of salt tolerant bacteria. An elaborative explanation was made with the help of lucid diagrams about the experiments conducted by Charpentier and Doudna collaboratively to simplify the system of gene editing with high speed and accuracy. She focused on this strategy can be used for the benefit of human kind but there are ethical issues involved. She mentioned these should be used only where is essentially required.
The session was followed with questions about the use of such discoveries in human welfare and their potential for being used against the human or other species surviving on earth, concerning with ethical issues. The concluding remarks were made by Prof. I. S. Dua followed by vote of thanks by Shri Dharam Vir, IAS (Retd.) & President SPSTI, to the speaker as well as the audience.