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CRISPR-Cas Genome Surveillance: From Basic Biology to Transformative Technology

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


Jennifer Doudna, Ph.D.
HHMI Investigator
UC Berkeley

Dr. Doudna's research focuses on determining the molecular structures of RNA molecules as a basis for understanding their biological function. Her work lays the foundation for understanding the evolution of RNAs and their relationship to the molecules that played a role in early forms of life. Solving these structures is helping scientists answer important questions about how RNA molecules are organized and how they function as enzymes. In separate research, she and her colleagues have discovered that the hepatitis C virus, which causes 10,000 deaths each year in the United States, uses an unusual strategy to synthesize viral proteins—a line of research that could lead to new drugs to block the infection without harming body tissues. Dr. Doudna is a recipient of awards including the NSF Waterman Award, the FNIH Lurie Prize, the Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research and the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. 


The advent of facile genome engineering using the bacterial RNA-guided CRISPR-Cas9 system in animals and plants is transforming biology. Dr. Doudna will present a brief history of CRISPR biology from its initial discovery through the elucidation of the CRISPR-Cas9 enzyme mechanism, providing the foundation for remarkable developments using this technology to modify, regulate or mark genomic loci in a wide variety of cells and organisms. These results highlight a new era in which genomic manipulation is no longer a bottleneck to experiments, paving the way to both fundamental discoveries in biology, with applications in all branches of biotechnology, and strategies for human therapeutics. Recent results regarding the molecular mechanism of Cas9 and its use for targeted cell-based therapies will be discussed.

The page was last updated on Thursday, March 26, 2015 - 5:59pm