How Science Beat the Virus

In February, Jennifer Doudna, one of America’s most prominent scientists, was still focused on CRISPR—the gene-editing tool that she’d co-discovered and that won her a Nobel Prize in October. But when her son’s high school shut down and UC Berkeley, her university, closed its campus, the severity of the impending pandemic became clear.

“In three weeks, I went from thinking we’re still okay to thinking that my whole life is going to change,” she told me.

On March 13, she and dozens of colleagues at the Innovative Genomics Institute, which she leads, agreed to pause most of their ongoing projects and redirect their skills to addressing COVID‑19. They worked on CRISPR-based diagnostic tests. Because existing tests were in short supply, they converted lab space into a pop-up testing facility to serve the local community.

“We need to make our expertise relevant to whatever is happening right now,” she said.




UC Berkeley / IGI



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