Gairdner Doudna CRISPR award logo

2016 Canada Gairdner Award winner: Jennifer Doudna

The work: In 2012 Dr. Charpentier and Dr. Doudna published the description of a revolutionary new genome editing technology that uses an engineered single-guide RNA together with the DNA-cleaving enzyme Cas9 to readily manipulate the genomic DNA of individual cells. The CRISPR-Cas9 technology has given biologists the equivalent of a molecular surgery kit for routinely disabling, activating or altering genes with high efficiency and precision. Their collective work has led to the breakthrough discovery of DNA cleavage by Cas9, a dual RNA- guided enzyme whose ability to cut double-stranded DNA can be programmed by changing the guide RNA sequence. Recognizing that such an activity could be employed as a molecular tool for precision genome engineering in various kinds of cells, their teams redesigned the natural dual-RNA guide as a single-guide RNA (sgRNA), creating an easy-to-use two component system.

The impact: This technology is transforming the fields of molecular genetics, genomics, agriculture and environmental biology. RNA-guided Cas9 complexes are effective genome engineering agents in animals, plants, fungi and bacteria. The CRISPR-Cas9 technology is being used in thousands of laboratories around the world to advance biological research by engineering cells and organisms in precise ways…




UC Berkeley




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