Jennifer A. Doudna, PhD

Jennifer A. Doudna, PhD
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator; Li Ka Shing Chancellor’s Chair in Biomedical and Health Sciences; Professor, Departments of Molecular and Cell Biology and Chemistry, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, California

Jennifer A. Doudna, PhD | Class of 2017

Globally celebrated for her development of the CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)-Cas9 (CRISPR associated protein 9) gene editing system, Dr. Doudna has significantly transformed biomedical research by establishing a straightforward approach to genome manipulation. Dr. Doudna’s efforts associated with the establishment of the CRISPR-Cas9 system began while she was studying how various bacteria counteract viral infection. She investigated how select bacteria utilize CRISPRs to store viral DNA sequences within their genomic loci and how storage of these sequences allows for the prevention of subsequent infections from similar viruses.

Seeking to understand this process further, she began to collaborate with Dr. Emmanuelle Charpentier, who had been working to define the various molecular components associated with CRISPR-associated viral immunity in Streptococcus pyogenes. Together they demonstrated that the CRISPR bacterial immune defense system could be harnessed as a platform by which to add or delete select DNA sequences in a given cell or organism. Specifically, they proved that exact DNA sequences could be cleaved by the RNA-guided DNA endonuclease, Cas9 and that Cas9-mediated double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) breaks could be directed by single-guide RNA (sgRNA) sequences, which possess the ability to imitate the function of CRISPR RNA (crRNA) and trans-activating crRNA (tracrRNA) complexes normally required for Cas9 recruitment to DNA. Dr. Doudna further demonstrated that Cas9-mediated gene editing can not only involve single gene sequences, but can also be “multiplexed” to allow for large scale genomic changes by utilizing various sgRNAs to target multiple sites for site-specific dsDNA breaks.

Her revolutionary work is expected to lead to tremendous advances in cancer science, by providing a powerful system that can be harnessed to inform the development of new cancer therapeutics and improve our understanding of tumor initiation and progression.

Career Highlights

2018  NAS Award in Chemical Sciences, National Academy of Sciences
​2017  Japan Prize
2016  Tang Prize
2015  Meira and Shaul G. Massry Prize
2015  Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation Award in Genetics
2015  Princess of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research
2015  Time 100, Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World
2014  Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences
2014  Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research
2014  Lurie Prize in Biomedical Sciences, Foundation for the National Institutes of Health
2013  Hans Neurath Award, Protein Society
2010  Elected Member, Institute of Medicine
2008  Elected Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
2003  Elected Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
2002  Elected Member, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC
2000  Alan T. Waterman Award, National Science Foundation
1999  William O. Baker Award for Initiatives in Research, National Academy of Sciences