Jennifer Doudna
Professor of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology
Department of Chemistry, Department of Molecular & Cell Biology
(510) 643-0225

Research Expertise and Interest

RNA machines, hepatitis C virus, RNA interference, ribosomes


RNA forms a variety of complex globular structures, some of which function like enzymes or form functional complexes with proteins. There are two major areas of focus in the lab: viral control of human protein synthesis, and RNA-mediated gene regulation. We are interested in understanding and comparing molecular mechanisms of protein synthesis used in human cells and by viruses that infect those cells. In particular, we are investigating RNA-mediated initiation of protein synthesis, focusing on the internal ribosome entry site (IRES) RNA from Hepatitis C virus. Cryo-EM, x-ray crystallography and biochemical experiments are focused on understanding the structure and mechanism of the IRES and its amazing ability to hijack the human ribosome and associated translation factors. A second area of focus in the lab is the molecular basis for RNA-mediated genetic control, in which small RNAs are generated and used to target specific gene transcripts for destruction. Our lab investigates the pathways of small RNA-mediated gene regulation in both human cells and in bacteria. Each of these projects seeks to understand the molecular basis for RNA function, using a combination of structural, biophysical and biochemical approaches.

In Research News

July 20, 2017

UC Berkeley researchers have discovered how Cas1-Cas2, the proteins responsible for the ability of the CRISPR immune system in bacteria to adapt to new viral infections, identify the site in the genome where they insert viral DNA so they can recognize it later and mount an attack.

Cas9 protein
July 12, 2017

Research now shows that the countermeasure viruses came up with — inhibitory proteins referred to as anti-CRISPRs — can be used to improve CRISPR-Cas9 as a gene-therapy tool, decreasing off-target gene editing that could cause unwanted side effects.

Cas9 protein
March 28, 2017

The European Patent Office (EPO) has announced its intention to grant a broad patent for the revolutionary CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology to the University of California, the University of Vienna and Emmanuelle Charpentier.

Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna
February 2, 2017

Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier were awarded the Japan Prize today for their invention of the revolutionary gene-editing technology known as CRISPR-Cas9.

lab stock photo
January 24, 2017

An initiative launched two years ago by UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco to use CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing to develop new disease therapies is expanding into research on the planet’s major crops and poorly understood microbiomes.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and pediatrician Priscilla Chan
September 21, 2016

An unprecedented collaboration between the Bay Area’s three premier research universities.

Arthur Rosenfeld and Jennifer Doudna
June 20, 2016

Taiwan’s top science award, the Tang Prize, has gone to two UC Berkeley scientists well-known in the fields of biochemistry and physics: Jennifer Doudna, for her invention of CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing, and Arthur Rosenfeld, often called the “godfather of energy efficiency.”

Jennifer Doudna
May 2, 2016

Biochemist Jennifer Doudna has been named a foreign member of the prestigious Royal Society, a rare honor for a UC Berkeley faculty member.

Jennifer Doudna
January 19, 2016

UC Berkeley biochemist Jennifer Doudna joined Joseph Biden this morning at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, as the vice president promoted a major new U.S. initiative to speed the discovery of cures for cancer.

November 12, 2015

Two new studies from UC Berkeley should give scientists who use CRISPR-Cas9 for genome engineering greater confidence that they won’t inadvertently edit the wrong DNA.

February 27, 2015

A powerful genome editing tool may soon become even more powerful. Researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have unlocked the key to how bacteria are able to “steal” genetic information from viruses and other foreign invaders for use in their own immunological memory system.

November 10, 2014

Two UC Berkeley scientists — structural biologist Jennifer Doudna and physicist Saul Perlmutter — were named 2015 Breakthrough Prize winners in life sciences and physics, respectively, at a star-studded gala in Silicon Valley.

October 13, 2014

Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues showed that CRISPR/Cas9, can be used with great precision to selectively disable or add several genes at once in human cells, offering a potent new tool to understand and treat complex genetic diseases.

April 3, 2014

The College of Chemistry has launched a new collaborative research center, the California Research Alliance by BASF (CARA), a multidisciplinary effort focused on innovation and technology transfer. Along with Berkeley and the chemical company BASF, CARA academic partners include UCLA and Stanford University.

Jennifer Doudna UC Berkeley
March 18, 2014

Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues showed that CRISPR/Cas9, can be used with great precision to selectively disable or add several genes at once in human cells, offering a potent new tool to understand and treat complex genetic diseases.

February 26, 2014

Jennifer Doudna, professor of molecular and cell biology, is the 2014 recipient of the Lurie Prize in the Biomedical Sciences from the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health.

February 6, 2014

Biochemist Jennifer Doudna and biophysicist Eva Nogales led an international collaboration with results that point the way to the rational design of new and improved versions of Cas9 enzymes for basic research and genetic engineering.

January 29, 2014

A team of researchers with the Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley have determined how the bacterial enzyme known as Cas9, guided by RNA, is able to identify and degrade foreign DNA during viral infections, as well as induce site-specific genetic changes in animal and plant cells

January 8, 2014

Science magazine’s Breakthrough of the Year for 2013 – cancer immunotherapy – emerged from work conducted at UC Berkeley in the 1990s, while a 2012 UC Berkeley discovery was named one of nine runners up for the annual honor.

November 6, 2013

Jennifer Doudna, Howard Hughes Investigator and Professor of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology at UC Berkeley was recently featured in the Independent for her work on Crispr, which has taken the world of genetics by storm.

January 7, 2013

A simple, precise and inexpensive method for cutting DNA to insert genes into human cells could transform genetic medicine, making routine what now are expensive, complicated and rare procedures for replacing defective genes in order to fix genetic disease or even cure AIDS.

March 26, 2012

The new Bakar Fellows Program is designed to help early-career Berkeley faculty commercialize promising research discoveries.

October 11, 2010

Jennifer Doudna has been elected a member of the Institute of Medicine, considered one of the highest honors in the fields of medicine and health. A professor of molecular and cell biology and an LBNL scientist, Doudna is one of only 12 IOM members on the UC Berkeley faculty.

May 10, 2010

Two UC Berkeley scientists, Jennifer Doudna and John Ngai, each will receive a $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to explore innovative research that could impact global health.

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