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Jennifer Doudna, inventor of gene editing technology CRISPR Cas9, is coming to Disrupt

TechCrunch TechCrunch 8/07/2016 Sarah Buhr

Berkeley professor of chemistry and molecular and cell biology and the inventor of the revolutionary CRISPR Cas9 gene editing technology Jennifer Doudna is going to join us for the first time on our Disrupt stage in SF this September.

We’ll chat with Doudna about her discovery of a tool called Cas9 that not only is upending the biotech industry but could have a domino effect on material science, manufacturing and production and the very seeds of life as we know it.

CRISPR Cas9 technology is one of those rare, world-changing discoveries that come only once-in-a-lifetime and it’s all thanks to Strep. Yes, that Strep, the kind that makes your throat sore. More precisely Doudna found a protein in Streptococcus bacteria that will “snip” certain DNA at precise areas. It’s like a sort of biological scissors that cuts the DNA where you want to cut.

And it has the potential to eradicate cancer, Parkinson’s, herpes, or even do away with disease-bearing mosquitos. It can also make microorganisms produce spider silk, the scent of roses, glow in the dark and many other actions so far. What Doudna has embarked upon, in short, is the find of the century.

But a deep battle has ensued, pitting scientist against scientist and university against university over who has the rights to claim the tech. Doudna sits on one end of the fight at Berkely University and, at the polar opposite end of the country at MIT sits molecular biologist Fang Zhang on the other end.

Both are up for a Nobel prize for their work, but MIT currently holds the patent.

We’ll chat with Doudna a bit about her findings, what she sees in the near future for CRISPR and how this tech will affect food production, GMO labeling, regulatory issues, ethical issues surrounding gene-editing – especially for human beings. We might also touch on Doudna’s company Intellia, Which went public this year, and how it is using CRISPR to potentially cure diseases like herpes. It’s sure to be a riveting discussion and we are very excited to have her with us.

Doudna joins several notable figures we have lined up for you at Disrupt SF 2016, including Shervin Pishevar, Marc Andreessen and Neal Stephensen. You can grab tickets here and early bird pricing is still available.

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