CRISPR-Cas is a powerful molecular tool for changing the code of life. Jennifer Doudna and her team focus on developing novel CRISPR-Cas technologies and using them to study molecular mechanisms of disease. Their goal is to establish first-of-their-kind approaches to treat disease by cutting out or modifying harmful DNA.
Current research in Doudna’s lab focuses on discovering and characterizing novel CRISPR-Cas-related proteins, developing genome-editing tools for use in vitro and in vivo, and using CRISPR technology to better understand the genetics of certain cancers like glioblastoma. New discoveries in this field continue at a rapid pace, revealing a technology that has widespread applications.
Areas of Expertise
Doudna and her colleagues rocked the research world in 2012 by describing a simple way of editing the DNA of any organism using an RNA-guided protein found in bacteria. This technology, called CRISPR-Cas9, has opened the floodgates of possibility for human and non-human applications of gene editing, including assisting researchers in the fight against HIV, sickle cell disease, and muscular dystrophy. While it was possible to modify cells’ genomes prior to CRISPR-Cas9, this platform has revolutionized genetic engineering by its simplicity, versatility, and precision. Doudna’s lab continues to refine the technology by investigating the mechanisms of action of various bacterial Cas proteins, with an eye to adapting their findings toward specific applications in biotechnology or medicine.
Senior Investigator, Gladstone Institutes
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Professor, Molecular and Cell Biology and Chemistry, UC Berkeley
Li Ka Shing Chancellor’s Chair in Biomedical and Health Sciences, UC Berkeley
President, Innovative Genomics Institute
Faculty Scientist, Physical Biosciences Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Jennifer Doudna is a senior investigator at Gladstone Institutes. She is also the Li Ka Shing Chancellor’s Chair and a professor in the Departments of Chemistry and of Molecular and Cell Biology at UC Berkeley, as well as an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She is the president of the Innovative Genomics Institute.
Her co-discovery of CRISPR-Cas9 genetic engineering technology, with collaborator, French scientist Emmanuelle Charpentier, has changed human and agricultural genomics research forever. This genome-editing technology enables scientists to change or remove genes quickly, with a precision only dreamed of just a few years ago. Labs worldwide have re-directed the course of their research programs to incorporate this new tool, creating a CRISPR revolution with huge implications across biology and medicine.
In addition to her scientific achievements and eminence, Doudna is also a leader in public discussion of the ethical and other implications of genome editing for human biology and societies, and advocates for thoughtful approaches to the development of policies around the use of CRISPR-Cas9.
Doudna was awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, along with Charpentier, for the development of a method for genome editing, CRISPR-Cas9. She has also received many other prizes for her discoveries, including the Japan Prize (2016), the Kavli Prize (2018), and the LUI Che Woo Welfare Betterment Prize (2019). In 2015, Doudna was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
How Did You Get Your Start in Science?
“As a young student, my father got me a copy of the book, The Double Helix by James Watson. This telling of the mystery and discovery of science captured my imagination.”
Honors and Awards
2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
2020 Wolf Prize in Medicine, The Wolf Foundation
2019 Microbiology Society Prize Medal, Scotland
2019 Harvey Prize, Technion, Israel
2019 Nierenberg Prize, Scripps Oceanographic Institute
2019 Lui Che Woo Welfare Betterment Prize
2018 Honorary Doctorate of Science, University of Southern California
2018 American Cancer Society Medal of Honor
2018 Kavli Prize in Nanoscience, Norway
2018 V de Vida Award, Spain
2018 Croonian Medal, Royal Society
2018 National Academy of Sciences Award in Chemical Sciences
2018 Gustavus John Esselen Award for Chemistry, Northeastern Sec Amer Chemical Society
2018 Lila &amp; Murray Gruber Memorial Cancer Research Award, American Academy of Dermatology
2018 Dickson Prize in Science, Carnegie Mellon University
2018 Pearl Meister Greengard Prize, Rockefeller University
2017 Honorary Doctorate of Science, Hong Kong University
2017 Honorary Doctorate of Science, Mount Sinai School of Medicine
2017 Genius 100 Award, Canada
2017 George R. Stibitz Computer &amp; Communications Pioneer Award
2017 The Edward O. Wilson Biodiversity Technology Pioneer Award
2017 Golden Plate Award, International Achievement Organization
2017 Albert Einstein Foundation Award
2017 Wallace H. Coulter Lectureship Award, The American Association for Clinical Chemistry
2017 Albany Medical Center Prize
2017 BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge Award, Spain
2017 F.A. Cotton Medal, The Texas A&amp;M Section of the American Chemical Society
2017 The Japan Prize, Japan Prize Foundation
2017 Luminary Award, Precision Medicine World Conference
2017 Fellow, American Association for Cancer Research
2016 Honorary Doctorate of Science, Yale University
2016 Honorary Doctorate of Science, York University
2016 Heineken Prize, Netherlands
2016 Tang Prize in Biopharmaceutical Science, Taiwan
2016 Paul Allen Distinguished Investigator
2016 Canada Gairdner Prize, Canada
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 Honorary Doctorate of Science, University of Leuven
2015 Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities Award
2015 Charles Butcher Award, University of Colorado
2015 Massry Prize, UCLA/USC
2015 Gruber Prize in Genetics
2015 Princess of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research
2015 International Society for Transgenic Technologies Prize
2015 Time 100, Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world
2015 Fellow, American Society for Microbiology
2014 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences
2014 Member, National Academy of Inventors
2014 Foreign Policy’s 100 Leading Global Thinkers
2014 Jacob Heskel Gabbay Award in Biotechnology and Medicine
2014 Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research
2014 Member, National Academy of Inventors
2014 Lurie Prize, Foundation for the NIH
2013 BayBio Pantheon Award
2013 Hans Neurath Award, Protein Society
2013 Mildred Cohn Award, ASBMB
2010 Member, National Academy of Medicine
2008 Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
2007 The Nucleic Acid Group Award, NACON VII, Sheffield, UK
2003 Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
2002 Member, National Academy of Sciences
2000 Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry, American Chemical Society
2000 Jean Francois LeFevre Memorial Lectureship, CNRS, Strasbourg, France
2000 R.B. Woodward Visiting Professorship, Harvard University
2000 Alan T. Waterman Award, National Science Foundation
1999 National Academy of Sciences Award for Initiatives in Research
1996 Johnson Foundation Prize for Innovative Research
- CRISPR-Cas12a target binding unleashes indiscriminate single-stranded DNase activity. Chen, J.S., Ma, E., Harrington, L.B., Da Costa, M., Tian, X., Palefsky, J.M., and Doudna, J.A. (2018) Science 360, 436-439.
- A broad-spectrum inhibitor of CRISPR-Cas9. Harrington, L.B., Doxzen, K.W., Ma, E., Liu, J., Knott, G.J., Edraki, A., Amrani, N., Chen, J.S., Cofsky, J.C., Kranzusch, P.J., Sontheimer, E.J., Davidson, A.R., Maxwell, K.L. and Doudna, J.A. (2017) Cell 170, 1224-1233.e15.
- Structures of the CRISPR genome integration complex. Wright, A.V., Liu, J.J., Knott, G.J., Doxzen, K.W., Nogales, E. and Doudna, J.A. (2017) Science 357, 1113-1118.
- Programmable RNA tracking in live cells with CRISPR-Cas9. Nelles, D.A., Fang, M.Y., O'Connell, M.R., Xu, J.L., Markmiller, S.J., Doudna, J.A. and Yeo, G.W. (2016) . Cell 65, 488-496.
- Foreign DNA capture during CRISPR-Cas adaptive immunity. Nuñez, J.K., Harrington, L.B., Kranzusch, P.J., Engelman, A. and Doudna, J.A. (2015) Nature 527, 535-8.
- Conformational control of DNA target cleavage by CRISPR-Cas9. Sternberg, S.H., LaFrance, B., Kaplan, M. and Doudna, J.A. (2015) Nature 527,110-113.
- A Cas9-guide RNA complex pre-organized for target DNA recognition. Jiang, F., Zhou, K., Ma, K., Gressel, S. and Doudna, J.A. (2015) Science 348,1477-81.
- Programmable RNA recognition and cleavage by CRISPR/Cas9. O’Connell, M.R., Oakes, B.L., Sternberg, S.H., East-Seletsky, A., Kaplan, M. and Doudna, J.A. (2014) Nature 516, 263-6.
- Structures of Cas9 endonucleases reveal RNA-mediated conformational activation. Jinek, M., Jiang, F., Taylor, D.W., Sternberg, S.H., Kaya, E., Ma, E., Anders, C., Hauer, M., Zhou, K., Lin, S., Kaplan, M., Iavarone, A.T., Charpentier, E., Nogales, E. and Doudna, J.A. (2014) Science 343, 1247997.
- DNA interrogation by the CRISPR RNA-guided endonuclease Cas9. Sternberg, S.H., Redding, S., Jinek, M.J., Greene, E.C. and Doudna, J.A. (2014) Nature 507, 62-7. (cover article; Perspective in Science published May 2014).
- Heritable genome editing using TALENs and CRISPR/Cas9 to engineer precise insertions and deletions in evolutionarily diverse nematode species. Lo, T.W., Pickle, C.S., Lin, S., Ralston, E.J., Gurling, M., Schartner, C.M., Bian, Q., Doudna, J.A. and Meyer, B.J. (2013) Genetics 195, 331-48.
- High-throughput profiling of off-target DNA cleavage reveals RNA-programmed Cas9 nuclease specificity. Pattanayak, V., Lin, S., Guilinger, J.P., Ma, E., Doudna, J.A. and Liu, D.R. (2013) Nature Biotechnol. 31, 839-43.
- CRISPR mediated modular RNA-guided regulation of transcription in eukaryotes. Gilbert, L.A., Larson, M.H., Morsut, L., Liu, Z., Brar, G.A., Torres, S.E., Stern-Ginossar, N., Brandman, 8 O., Whitehead, E.H., Doudna, J.A., Lim, W.A., Weissman, J.S. and Qi, L.S. (2013) Cell 154, 442-51.
- Repurposing CRISPR as an RNA-guided platform for sequence-specific control of gene expression. Qi LS, Larson MH, Gilbert LA, Doudna JA, Weissman JS, Arkin AP, Lim WA. (2013) Cell 152, 1173-83.
- RNA-programmed genome editing in human cells. Jinek, M., East, A., Cheng, A., Ma, E. and Doudna, J.A. (2013) eLife 2, e00471.
- A Programmable Dual-RNA-Guided DNA Endonuclease in Adaptive Bacterial Immunity. Jinek, M., Chylinski, K., Fonfara, I., Hauer, M., *Doudna, J.A. and *Charpentier E. (2012) Science 337, 816-21. *corresponding authors
- Structures of the RNA-guided surveillance complex from a bacterial immune system. Wiedenheft, B., Lander, G.C., Zhou, K., Jore, M.M., Brouns, S.J., van der Oost, J., Doudna, J.A. and Nogales, E. (2011) Nature 477, 486-9.
- An RNA-induced conformational change required for CRISPR RNA cleavage by the endoribonuclease Cse3. Sashital, D.G., Jinek, M. and Doudna, J.A. (2011) Nature Struct. Mol. Biol. 18, 680-7. PMID: 21572442.
- RNA-guided complex from a bacterial immune system enhances target recognition through seed sequence interactions. Wiedenheft, B., van Duijn, E., Bultema, J., Waghmare, S., Zhou, K., Barendregt, A., Westphal, W., Heck, A., Boekema, E., Dickman, M. and Doudna, J.A. (2011) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 108, 10092-7.
- Structural basis for CRISPR RNA-guided DNA recognition by Cascade. Jore, M.M., Lundgren, M., van Duijn, E., Bultema, J.B., Westra, E.R., Waghmare, S.P., Wiedenheft, B., Pul, U., Wurm, R., Wagner, R., Beijer, M.R., Barendregt, A., Zhou, K., Snijders, A.P., Dickman, M.J., Doudna, J.A., Boekema, E.J., Heck, A.J., van der Oost, J., Brouns, S.J. (2011) Nature Struct. Mol. Biol. 18, 529- 36.
- Structural basis for CRISPR RNA-guided DNA recognition by Cascade. Haurwitz, R.E., Jinek, M., Wiedenheft, B., Zhou, K. and Doudna, J.A. (2010) Sequence- and structurespecific RNA processing by a CRISPR endonuclease. Science 329, 1355-8.