Established in 2001, the award is presented to a leading scientist in recognition of groundbreaking contributions to any realm of genetics research. Davis, a pioneer in innovative biotechnologies, was chosen for his work in the development and practical application of recombinant DNA and genomic methods to biological organisms.
Davis was one of the first researchers to discover that certain proteins function as highly selective molecular scissors: Not only do they cut DNA at specific sequences, most also leave dangling complementary, single-stranded ends ripe for a matching partner. The finding, published in 1972, revolutionized the then-nascent field of recombinant DNA by allowing scientists to "mix and match" similarly cut DNA fragments.
Davis will receive the prize, which includes a gold medal and an unrestricted $500,000 cash award, on Oct. 13 in Montreal during the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics.