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Published: 2023-10-05

Emmanuelle Charpentier appointed honorary citizen of Umeå

NEWS In 2020, Emmanuelle Charpentier was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her discovery of the gene-editing tool. Three years later, on the same day as this year’s chemistry prize was announced, she has now been appointed honorary citizen of Umeå municipality.

CRISPR-Cas9 is referred to as the sharpest tool in gene editing and it has revolutionised molecular biology and cellular biology research. Emmanuelle Charpentier made the discovery of the gene-editing tool in 2012 when she worked at Umeå University. In 2020, she and Jennifer A. Doudna from the University of California, Berkeley (USA) were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their discovery.

Fifth citizen to be appointed

Three years later, on 4 October 2023, Umeå municipality chose to appoint Emmanuelle Charpentier honorary citizen of Umeå. This is an appointment that is awarded individuals who have contributed to the development of Umeå, in words or actions showed their appreciation for the town, or in other ways increased awareness and esteem of Umeå.

The appointment has previously been awarded author Stieg Larsson, politician and journalist Anita Ingegerd Gradin, footballer Gunnar Nordahl and author Lars Widding.

This is Umeå municipality’s comment to their appointment of Emmanuelle Charpentier

Emmanuelle Charpentier has made a scientific discovery that has attracted attention across the world. In an incredible way, her work has increased visibility for the research conducted at Umeå University, which in many areas is world leading. This will help attract people to the University and to Umeå for the foreseeable future. In her interviews, she has also presented Umeå as a place that gave her time, favourable conditions and resources, which enabled her to fully concentrate on her research.

Emmanuelle Charpentier is also an important inspiration for young people in Umeå, not least for young women. Before she and Jennifer Doudna were awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, the award had only been awarded to five women. Emmanuelle Charpentier has shown that it is possible, regardless of gender, to use scientific excellence to reach a prominent position in the academic community and in the massively competitive and male-dominated natural sciences research. Her commitment for young researchers is also reflected through the opportunity she has to offer young researchers a postdoctoral appointment in research groups at the Laboratory for Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden (MIMS) at Umeå University.

When the Nobel Prize was announced, Emmanuelle Charpentier highlighted infrastructure and climate at Umeå University as a facilitator for her successful research, which she also mentioned with this appointment:

“I’m very honoured to have been selected honorary citizen of Umeå municipality. I came here on a cold winter day with a hypothesis and a research idea. Here, I had a department leadership that believed in me; a laboratory with good resources; and a town that had everything I needed to live a good life and conduct my research. Umeå gave me the opportunity to realise and develop what already after a few years would result in a Nobel Prize. Umeå is a hospitable town that will forever have a special place in my heart,” says Emmanuelle Charpentier to Umeå municipality.

Umeå University finds Emmanuelle Charpentier a good choice of honorary citizen.

“Naturally, we find Emmanuelle Charpentier a worthy honorary citizen for Umeå. She is a good ambassador for the city and the University. Her discovery of the gene-editing tool that resulted in the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry has had a huge impact on both research at Umeå University as well as the rest of the world,” says Hans Adolfsson, Vice-Chancellor of Umeå University.

Interview with Emmanuelle Charpentier, two years after the Nobel Prize

Umeå University met Emmanuelle Charpentier in conjunction with the Nobel Prize Ceremony in 2022, two years after the announcement of her Nobel Prize in Chemistry. How has the award affected her, what has happened in the research field and what are her hopes and dreams for the future?

More information about the honorary citizenship can be found in Swedish on Umeå municipality’s website.