Jennifer Doudna on the Pandemic Year: The Power of Mission-Driven Science

The pandemic year has been marked by so much tragedy, but I am heartened by what scientific innovation and collaboration have achieved to help move our society forward.

Last March, UC Berkeley had begun shutting down ahead of a Bay Area-wide shelter-in-place order. Students and faculty were sent home, research work was paused, and across northern California communities desperately needed more Covid-19 testing capacity.

At the Innovative Genomics Institute that I founded to advance CRISPR genome editing research, we convened a meeting to discuss how we could help. Members of the team are world-renowned scientists whose labs at UC Berkeley and UCSF sequence and analyze genomes daily. These experts are not just chemists and biologists, but altruists as well—people driven to solve seemingly intractable societal problems. We decided to pivot from our projects and convert our research labs into an automated Covid testing facility and expand existing efforts to develop CRISPR-based diagnostics and genetic medicines that might allow us to mitigate this pandemic.


COVID-19, Global Health, CRISPR


IGI / UC Berkeley



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