Berkeley, CA, November 24, 2014 – Jennifer Doudna, Executive Director and founder of the Innovative Genomics Initiative, who developed the CRISPR-Cas9 technology, won a $3 million Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences on Nov. 9 and was recognized this month by Foreign Policy Magazine as one of the 100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2014. These back-to-back awards highlight the growing recognition of the profound nature of the CRISPR-Cas9 discovery.
“On behalf of the dedicated researchers at the Li Ka Shing Center for Genomic Engineering at UC Berkeley, I am honored that this technology breakthrough is becoming well known for its potential impact,” said Professor Doudna. “We’re excited to partner with a wide range of collaborators to leverage the technology to solve real-world problems.”
This transformative, but simple, technology allows any researcher with basic molecular biology training to “edit” the genetic code within cells. Doudna’s technology reprograms a protein – called CRISPR-Cas9 – to make changes to the genetic code (DNA) of cells and organisms. This CRISPR-Cas9 technology can recognize a specific DNA sequence and trigger cells to modify it or add new genetic information to the cell.
While the Human Genome Project mapped the genes linked to human disease, up until the discovery of Cas9, there was no straightforward way to replace those genes. Cas9 allows scientists to work inside cells, making changing genes simple, reliable and inexpensive.
Cas9 is to genetic innovation what search engines are to the Internet: it gives biomedical researchers access to the genes they need to create new treatments for everything from hereditary killers like cystic fibrosis, to infertility to infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS.
The Breakthrough Prizes were founded by Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki, Jack Ma and Cathy Zhang, Yuri and Julia Milner, and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan. The prizes aim to celebrate scientists and generate excitement about the pursuit of science as a career. The Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences honors transformative advances toward understanding living systems and extending human life.
The annual Foreign Policy Magazine’s 100 Leading Global Thinkers list recognizes those individuals with the potential to impact millions around the world. The list is broken down into the areas of agitators, challengers, innovators, chroniclers, artists, decision-makers, naturals, advocates, healers, and moguls.
Doudna is traveling to a wide range of academic, social impact and biotechnology events and conferences meeting with potential collaborators and partners to speed CRISPR-Cas9 collaboration.
ABOUT THE IGI: The Innovative Genomics Initiative (IGI) was established in early 2014 at the Li Ka Shing Center for Genomic Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, and is a joint UC Berkeley/UC San Francisco initiative dedicated to the enhancement and proliferation of genome editing research and technology in both the academic and commercial research communities.
ABOUT JENNIFER DOUDNA: Dr. Jennifer Doudna is the Li Ka Shing Chancellor’s Chair in Biomedical and Health Sciences, and a member of the departments of Molecular and Cell Biology and Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley. She is also a member of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Doudna serves as the Executive Director of the Li Ka Shing Center for Genomic Engineering.
Contact: Marsha Fenner, firstname.lastname@example.org, 510/664-7110