Jennifer Doudna, PhD

Jennifer DoudnaWallace H. Coulter Lectureship Award

Dr. Doudna is the Li Ka Shing Chancellor’s Chair in Biomedical and Health Sciences at the University of California Berkeley and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Her research seeks to understand how RNA molecules control the expression of genetic information. Her investigations into clustered regularly interspersed short palindromic repeats (CRISPRs) and the CRISPR-associated (Cas) enzyme Cas9 led to the transformative discovery of DNA cleavage by Cas9. Cas9 is an RNA-guided enzyme whose ability to cut double-stranded DNA can be programmed by changing the guide RNA sequence. Recognizing that this enzyme–RNA complex could be employed for precision genome engineering, Dr. Doudna’s team created a simple-to-use system that triggered a revolution in the fields of molecular genetics and genomics. The CRISPRCas9 technology is being used in laboratories around the world to advance biological research by engineering cells and organisms in precise ways. This genome editing in animals and plants is revolutionizing the fields of medicine, genetics, and molecular biology in ways that will almost certainly lead to the development of new therapeutics, biofuels, and agricultural products. Dr. Doudna is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, National Academy of Medicine, and National Academy of Inventors. She has received many awards, including the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, Princess of Asturias Award (Spain), Gruber Prize in Genetics, Heineken Prize (Netherlands), Gairdner Award (Canada), Tang Prize (Taiwan), Japan Prize (Japan), and L’Oreal-UNESCO International Prize for Women in Science.