Jennifer Doudna to open CRISPR laboratory at Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco

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Jennifer Doudna, campus professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, who co-discovered the genome-editing technology CRISPR-Cas9, will open a lab at the Gladstone Institutes in San Francisco to expand her research.

Doudna was appointed as a Gladstone senior investigator and will oversee a lab using CRISPR technologies to approach treating disease by modifying harmful DNA, a Gladstone Institutes press release said. Doudna will maintain her faculty positions at both UC Berkeley and UCSF.

Doudna’s laboratory will join the Gladstone Institute of Data Science and Biotechnology, led by Katherine Pollard, who said she “can’t imagine a better person” to join her department.

“I’m excited to join this incredible team of researchers and work together across a broad spectrum of science,” Doudna said in a Gladstone press release. “Gladstone is a unique, independent institution, located in the epicenter of world-class biomedical innovation. Its agile environment will help provide my lab opportunities to venture into new areas of research.”

Deepak Srivastava, Gladstone president, said Doudna will continue collaboration with a number of Gladstone scientists, including Nobel Prize recipient Shinya Yamanaka and senior investigator Bruce Conklin.

“The ability to work closely with Bruce and Shinya and many at Gladstone made it the most fertile environment for her going forward,” Srivastava said. “Marrying Jennifer’s work with our dedication to disease prevention is perfect.”

Conklin said it will be “terrific” for Doudna to be in close proximity to researchers at the Gladstone Institutes, allowing for more collaboration.

CRISPR work has been going up at a very dramatic rate, and this will just accelerate what’s already in effect,” Conklin said. “I end up going to Berkeley on a once-a-week basis, but for other people to have her around more is definitely a great advantage.”

Doudna will work with her team in the new lab to create treatments for genetic disorders, including neurodegenerative disorders, according to the Gladstone press release.

Her team also hopes to research the genetics of cancers, such as those of glioblastoma, and find ways to target the genes that the cancers depend on, the press release said.

“I’ve moved a few times in my career, and in my experience, when you transplant yourself into a new environment with new colleagues and projects, interesting new insights, opportunities and ideas invariably come up,” Doudna said in a Gladstone press release.

In addition to the team’s cancer research, Srivastava said Doudna will develop CRISPR mechanisms that can be applied directly in the eye, which can help address mutations that cause blindness and eye diseases.

People are very enthusiastic because Jennifer is a wonderful human being and a creative scientist,” Srivastava said. “She’s very humble. … To have her as a colleague will be wonderful.”

Contact Sri Medicherla at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @sri_medicherla.