Jennifer Doudna grew up in rural Hawaii, where she first became interested in the chemistry of living systems. Dr Doudna is currently the Li Ka Shing Chancellor’s Chair in Biomedical and Health Sciences and she is Professor of Molecular and Cell Biology and Professor of Chemistry at UC Berkeley and an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Professor Doudna’s research seeks to understand how RNA molecules control the expression of genetic information. Early in her career, Dr Doudna’s lab determined some of the first crystal structures of RNA and RNA-protein complexes, providing unprecedented insights into molecular function of non-protein-coding RNAs. More recently she and collaborator Emmanuelle Charpentier determined the mechanism of RNA-guided bacterial adaptive immunity by the CRISPR-Cas9 system, enabling them to harness this system for efficient genome engineering in animals and plants. CRISPR-Cas9 is a transformative technology that is revolutionizing the fields of genetics, molecular biology and medicine. Dr Doudna is a recipient of numerous awards and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Inventors.
Doudna has been widely acclaimed by the scientific community for her fundamental contributions to the fields of biochemistry and genetics, receiving many prestigious awards and fellowships. She was awarded the 2000 Alan T. Waterman Award for her research on ribozyme, and 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for her contributions to CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing technology (with Charpentier). She has also been a co-recipient of the Gruber Prize in Genetics (2015), the Canada Gairdner International Award (2016) and the Japan Prize (2017). She has also been recognized outside the scientific community, being named one of the Time 100 most influential people in 2015 (with Charpentier) and listed as a runner-up for Time Person of the Year in 2016 alongside other CRISPR researchers.