World Civilization rewards scientists

Local | Kay Wong 20 Aug 2019

A scientist who co-invented groundbreaking genome editing technology and a former head of the Dunhuang Research Academy were among the winners at this year's Lui Che Woo Prize - Prize for World Civilization.

American biochemist Jennifer Doudna, Chinese archaeologist Fan Jinshi and the Nature Conservancy were named laureates for the prize founded by Lui Che-woo, chairman of K Wah Group.

The winners were announced yesterday, but the award ceremony will take place in October.

Doudna, the co-inventor of genome editing technology CRISPR-Cas9, will be awarded the Welfare Betterment Prize.

The technology enables scientists to make precise changes to DNA and could be the key to treating or preventing inherited genetic disorders, as well as more complex diseases.

Economist Lawrence Lau Juen-yee, chairman of the prize recommendation committee, said Doudna's work has had "huge implications for the welfare of people around the globe" and has "given hope to millions worldwide."

Fan, the former director of the Dunhuang Research Academy, will be awarded the Positive Energy Prize.

She is dedicated to studying, preserving and disseminating the Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang.

She hopes that by being awarded the prize, it "will encourage everyone to more strongly consider the importance of our shared heritage and connection as people of the world."

"Her lifelong dedication and spirit of pursuit inspires people to find their roots and protect history and culture - a portrayal of positive energy in any era," Lui said.

The Nature Conservancy, which will receive the Sustainability Prize, is a global environmental non-profit organization that aims to tackle challenges plaguing the world such as climate change, water and food shortages through new technologies and partnerships.

"They have proactively collaborated with different entities across societies, respected local needs and culture without any confrontational attitude," Lui said.

On the recent unrest, Lui said people should remain rational, help each other and make concessions.

Asked whether the government should be blamed, Lui said: "Everyone has to take responsibility."

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