Scientists Emmanuelle Charpentier, 51, and Jennifer Doudna, 56, won the 2020 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for the development of a method for genome editing.
They both worked on the discovery of Crispr/Cas9, a powerful gene-editing tool which allows researchers to make precise changes to genes.
Only five women have previously won the Nobel prize for Chemistry, despite the award first being handed out in 1901.
Crispr-Cas9 has already become one of the most widely used tools in the treatment and creation of therapeutics for hereditary diseases.
It has been likened to a pair of genetic scissors, allowing for tiny snippets of the genome to be removed and replaced.
‘Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna have discovered one of gene technology’s sharpest tools: the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors,’ the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said in a statement.
The scientists will share the 10 million Swedish crown ($1.1 million) prize.
The recipients were announced Wednesday in Stockholm by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
‘There is enormous power in this genetic tool, which affects us all,’ said Claes Gustafsson, chair of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry.
‘It has not only revolutionised basic science, but also resulted in innovative crops and will lead to ground-breaking new medical treatments.’
Gustafsson said that as a result, any genome can now be edited ‘to fix genetic damage.’
Gusfafsson cautioned that the ‘enormous power of this technology means we have to use it with great care’ but that it ‘is equally clear that this is a technology, a method that will provide humankind with great opportunities.’