CRISPR dispute: Who gets patent, and who wins Nobel Prize?

| | October 5, 2015
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Nobel Prize speculation, gossip, and betting pools kick off every fall around the time Thomson Reuters releases its predictions for science’s most prestigious prize. This year, one prediction was unusual: a much-hyped genome-editing tool called CRISPR/Cas9.

Thomson Reuters bases its predictions on how often key papers get cited by other scientists. Here, the paper in question has as its authors Jennifer Doudna, a molecular biologist at UC Berkeley, and Emmanuelle Charpentier, a microbiologist now at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology. Missing is Feng Zhang (no relation to this writer), a molecular biologist at the Broad Institute and MIT, who actually owns the patents for CRISPR/Cas9 and says that he came up with the idea independently.

The two groups—or their patent lawyers, really—are in fact fighting over credit for CRISPR/Cas9. At stake are millions of dollars already poured into rival companies that have licensed patents from the two different groups.

But putting aside all the lawyers and all the money for a moment, obsessing over finding the one true origin of Crispr/Cas9 gets science all wrong. Casting the narrative as Doudna versus Zhang or Berkeley versus MIT is a misapprehension of history, creativity, and innovation. Discovery comes not from a singular stroke of genius, but an incremental body of research.

Read full, original post: The battle over genome editing gets science all wrong

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