Taiwanese-American named scientist of the year by Nature

David Liu was named for his groundbreaking gene-editing technique

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(Screenshot of Harvard.edu webpage)

(Screenshot of Harvard.edu webpage)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - British journal Natural recently released its list of "ten people who mattered this year." Among them,Taiwanese-American David Liu was named for his groundbreaking gene-editing technique which "could one day save lives."

Born and raised in California, the 44-year-old scientist studied chemistry at Harvard and UC Berkeley. Liu's father and mother moved to the U.S. from Taiwan to work as an aerospace engineer and a professor in physics respectively.

Liu is now working with the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which published the results of a daring attempt to quickly change the DNA of nearly any organism including humans. The technique was called CRISPR.

The publication elaborated on the reason for the pick:

For more than a decade, he has been in the vanguard of researchers tinkering with powerful gene-editing technologies, most recently with the much-hailed method known as CRISPR. ... “This will cover a good number of disease mutations,” says Dana Carroll, a genome engineer at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. “There will be significant impact.”

After learning of the list, Liu thanked and attributed the success to the team at the institute for their continued dedication and insight over CRISPR.

Other scientists on the list include astronomer Marica Branchesi who helps scientists make the most of a historic gravitational-wave event, Chinese physicist Pan Jianwei who took quantum communication to space and back and Sydney researcher Jennifer Byrne on a mission to expose flawed genetics research papers.