Areas of Investigation

CRISPR Systems

Bacteria and archaea possess adaptive immunity against foreign genetic elements using CRISPR–Cas systems. Upon infection, new foreign DNA sequences are captured and integrated into the host CRISPR locus as new spacers. The CRISPR locus is transcribed and processed to generate mature CRISPR RNAs, each encoding a unique spacer sequence. Each crRNA associates with Cas effector proteins that use crRNAs as guides to silence foreign genetic elements that match the crRNA sequence. Doudna’s team was the first to describe how this ancient immune system could be programmed to enable precise genome editing in model systems. Currently, they are interested in elucidating the mechanisms underlying CRISPR–Cas immunity, especially in understanding the functions of Cas proteins. In addition, they are working to develop novel CRISPR-based tools for biotechnology applications.

Translational Control

The Doudna lab is exploring multiple aspects of how our cells exert precise control over the production of proteins. For example, cells can produce multiple mRNA isoforms from a single gene by alternative transcription, splicing, and polyadenylation, and in turn, each isoform can be translated differently. Doudna and her group are developing new techniques to investigate this complex interplay.


Pioneered the use of CRISPR/Cas9 for genome editing
Deciphered the molecular structure of ribozymes
Characterized the interactions between viral internal ribosome entry sites (IRES) and ribosomes

Professional titles

HHMI Investigator;
Professor, Molecular and Cell Biology and Chemistry, UC Berkeley;
Li Ka Shing Chancellor’s Chair in Biomedical and Health Sciences, UC Berkeley;
Executive Director, Innovative Genomics Institute;
Professor, Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, University of California, San Francisco


  • Biochemistry
  • Pomona College
  • Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology
  • Harvard Medical School

Honors and Awards

2018 Royal Society Croonian Medal
2018 National Academy of Sciences Award in Chemical Sciences
2018 Fellow of the American Association for Cancer Research
2017 Albert Einstein Foundation Award
2016 Warren Alpert Foundation Prize–Harvard Medical School
2016 Nakasone Award–Human Frontier Science Program
2016 Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize (Germany)
2016 L’Oreal-UNESCO International Prize for Women in Science
2015 Gruber Prize in Genetics
2014 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences
2014 Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research
2014 Lurie Prize–Foundation for the NIH
2010 Member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies
2008 Elected Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science