Episode 119 : Revolutionary, with UC Berkeley's Jennifer Doudna
Biochemist, University of California, Berkeley; Founder, Innovative Genomics Institute (IGI); Co-inventor of CRISPR technology; Nobel Laureate (2020)
“Diagnosis goes hand in hand with vaccination, and of course with therapies as well. What CRISPR is doing is providing for rapid turnaround testing at a lower cost and higher throughput than we've had with other technologies. We'll see that happening in various testing labs, certainly around the U.S. And the nice thing about that is it really does go hand in hand with these vaccines that are coming forward.”
When Jennifer Doudna first spoke with Mike on the podcast four months ago, she was looking forward to her revolutionary CRISPR technology being applied to COVID diagnosis. Today, the Innovative Genomics Institute, which she founded, has tested more than 100,000 virus samples, including many in the underserved communities around UC Berkeley, her academic home. Another development since August: Dr. Doudna received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her game-changing co-discovery of CRISPR, which may one day help facilitate the elimination of genetic diseases.
“We have the sequence of the entire human genome now,” she reminds Mike. “That's been available for the last two decades. And what hasn't been possible up until now is an easy way to manipulate the code. Allow scientists to make a change to an individual gene or to a set of genes to understand first of all, how they work, but also, really importantly, make changes that correct disease-causing mutations. And that's what CRISPR now enables.”