THE BIRTH OF CRISPR INC.: How a community fractured as a revolutionary genome-editing tool became a business

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In early 2012, Emmanuelle Charpentier, a little-known French microbiologist who would soon meet worldwide fame, contacted her old friend Rodger Novak to tell him about her recent studies at Umeå University in Sweden of the mechanisms behind a novel bacterial immune system. “She said, ‘Hey, what do you think about CRISPR?‘” recalls Novak, a biotech executive who more than a decade earlier had worked with Charpentier in academic labs studying antibiotic resistance. “I had no clue what she was talking about.”

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