Jennifer A. Doudna

Jennifer Anne Doudna is an American biochemist who is known for her pioneering work in CRISPR gene editing. She also made many other fundamental contributions to biochemistry and genetics. She along with Emmanuelle Charpentier was awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for the development of a method for genome editing.

She was born on 19th February 1964 in Washington DC. She grew up in Hilo, Hawaii. She graduated from Pomona College in 1985 and earned a Ph.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1989. 

She received her primary education from Hilo High School where she developed her interest in science. She credits this to her 10th-grade chemistry teacher, Ms. Jeanette Wong, who according to Jennifer has been a significant influence in sparking her nascent scientific curiosity.

For her undergraduate studies, Doudna attended Pomona College in Claremont, California, where she studied biochemistry. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Biochemistry in 1985.

Post-graduation she went to Harvard Medical School for her doctoral study. There she earned a Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry in 1989. The topic of her Ph.D. was to develop a system that would increase the efficiency of self-replicating catalytic RNA.

Research Work

After pursuing her Ph.D., she joined Massachusetts General Hospital where she did research in molecular biology. She also did research in genetics from Harvard Medical School.
She went on to become a Postdoctoral Scholar in Biomedical Science at the University of Colorado Boulder. There she worked with Thomas Cech from 1991 to 1994.

CRISPR/Cas9

Apart from all the other works that she has done, Like Charpentier, Doudna is also best known for her work on CRISPR-Cas9. Doudna along with her colleagues discovered a new methodology that reduced the time and works needed to edit genomic DNA.

About CRISPR

As we know that the life processes of organisms are controlled by genes which are made up of sections of DNA. CRISPR, discovered by Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna, is a methodology for high-precision changes to genes. 

It uses the immune defenses of bacteria and disables viruses by cutting their DNA up with a type of genetic scissors. 

It was made by extracting and simplifying the gene scissors’ molecular components. This tool can be used to cut any DNA molecule at a predetermined site. 

As such the CRISPR/Cas9 gene scissors can be helpful in many ways. It can lead to new scientific discoveries, better crop varieties, and also new weapons in the fight against cancer and genetic diseases.

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