Science Seminar Series
When: 7- 8 p.m., Thursday, February 23, 2017
Reception: 6:30 – 7 p.m.
Where: Berkeley City College, Room 431
This event is free and open to the public.
Jennifer Doudna is the Li Ka Shing Chancellor’s Chair in Biomedical and Health Sciences at UC Berkeley and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Prof. Doudna’s research seeks to understand how RNA molecules control the expression of genetic information. Her research led to insights about CRISPR-Cas9-mediated bacterial immunity that enabled this system to be harnessed for efficient genome engineering in animals and plants, creating a transformative technology that is revolutionizing the fields of genetics, molecular biology and medicine. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Inventors. She is a recipient of awards including the NAS Initiatives in Research Award, the NSF Waterman Award, the FNIH Lurie Prize, the Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research, the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, the Princess of Asturias Award (Spain), the Gruber Prize in Genetics, the Massry Prize, the Gairdner Award, the Nakasone Prize, the Warren Alpert Foundation Prize and the L’Oreal-UNESCO International Prize for Women in Science.
Doudna, a biochemist at the University of California, Berkeley, published research in 2012 that detailed a gene-editing technique that shows how scientists can alter any organism’s DNA. The monumental discovery, and further development of the technique, offers scientists hope that they may one day be able to rewrite flawed genes in people. It offers the promise of new drugs, new treatments for disease and possibly even the eradication of some inherited diseases.
But the discovery also comes with profound ethical questions, and Doudna has been a leading figure in encouraging a public scientific debate about further study and development of the technique — called CRISPR-Cas9 — and whether it should ever be used to alter a human embryo.
“Through dialogue and sharing of information, we as a society can find a consensus on how to use CRISPR technology appropriately for the benefit of all humankind.”
Jennifer Anne Doudna (born 19 February 1964) is a Professor of Chemistry and of Molecular and Cell Biology at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering of the University of California, Berkeley. She has been an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) since 1997.
Doudna has been a leading figure in what is often referred to as the “CRISPR Revolution” for her early fundamental work and ongoing leadership in the development of CRISPR-mediated genome editing. In their 2012 paper titled A programmable dual-RNA-guided DNA endonuclease in adaptive bacterial immunity, Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier were the first to propose that CRISPR/Cas9 could be used for programmable gene editing, an idea that has since been further developed by many research groups for applications ranging from fundamental protein research to treatments for diseases including sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, Huntington’s disease, and HIV.
Doudna has been widely acclaimed by the scientific community for her fundamental contributions to the field of biochemistry, receiving many prestigious awards and fellowships. She has also been recognized outside of the scientific community, being named one of the Time 100 most influential people in 2015 (with Charpentier) and listed as a runner-up for Time Person of the Year in 2016 alongside other CRISPR researchers.