Genetics Home › The 2019 Bernard Cohen Memorial Lecture in Genetics

2019 Bernard Cohen Memorial Lecture in Genetics


Jennifer A. Doudna
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
Professor of Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology
University of California Berkeley

Title TBA

Monday, April 29, 2019, 4:00 PM
Rubenstein Auditorium, Smilow Center for Translational Research

Jennifer Doudna was born in Washington, D.C., but spent most of her childhood in Hilo, Hawaii, where her father taught American literature at the University of Hawaii at Hilo and her mother lectured on history at a local community college. Doudna’s interest in science began with her explorations into the rainforests around her home. She traces her first exposure to biochemistry, however, to a copy of James Watson’s The Double Helix, which her father gave her when she was in the sixth grade.

After finishing her undergrad in Biochemistry at Pomona College in California, Doudna went to Harvard for graduate school, where she worked with future Nobel laureate Jack Szostak, and then completed her postdoctoral work at the University of Colorado at Boulder with Nobel laureate Tom Cech. Doudna went onto her first faculty position in 1994 at Yale in the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and moved to UC Berkeley in 2002.

Jennifer Doudna has devoted her scientific career to understanding the function of catalytic and other non-protein-coding RNAs. Using structural biology and biochemistry, Doudna's work deciphering the molecular structures and biochemical activities of RNA enzymes (ribozymes) and other functional RNAs, along with their protein-binding partners, has shown how these molecules carry out complex activities in cells.

Doudna currently holds the Li Ka Shing Chancellor’s Chair in Biomedical Sciences at the UC Berkeley. Her lab continues to study the CRISPR/Cas9 system, and is also collaborating with other labs to develop clinical applications of the technology. Doudna has received numerous honors and awards for her work, including memberships in the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Institute of Medicine. She lives in Berkeley with her husband, Jamie Cate, PhD, who is a Professor of biochemistry at UC Berkeley, and their 12-year-old son, Andrew.