Jennifer Doudna will give the 2018 John M. Prather Lectures in Biology. Doudna is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and the Li Ka Shing Chancellor’s Professor in Biomedicine & Health at the University of California Berkeley, where she directs the Innovative Genomics Institute.
Doudna and her team pioneered the development of CRISPR, a new gene editing technology that is already hailed as one of the most important scientific discoveries in history. CRISPR has radically improved our ability to make designed changes in genomes. It is revolutionizing basic biological research, and it provides a powerful new means for improving crops, livestock, bio-based industries, the environment, and perhaps even ourselves. Radical technologies have potential for both good and ill, and Doudna has been a leader in public policy and ethics discussions about the responsible use of CRISPR. In her lectures, she will tell the story of CRISPR’s discovery and discuss its implications.
Doudna grew up in Hawaii, and received her undergraduate degree in chemistry from Pomona College and her doctorate from Harvard University in Jack Szostak’s laboratory. After postdoctoral work at the University of Colorado in Boulder in Tom Cech’s laboratory, she led a research group as a professor at Yale University before moving to Berkeley in 2002. Besides CRISPR, her work has made many other landmark contributions to our understanding of RNA biochemistry and structure. Among her awards and honors, she is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Inventors, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and she has received the Japan Prize, the Gruber Prize, the Gairdner Prize, and the Breakthrough Prize. She has co-founded several companies, including Caribou Biosciences, Intellia Therapeutics, Editas Medicine, and Mammoth Biosciences, that aim to commercialize CRISPR’s promise.