CRISPR And Beyond: UCSD-Doudna Work Attracts Paul Allen’s Millions

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was first to make the engineered system work in eukaryotic cells—those more advanced than bacteria or archaea. The patent dispute pits a group led by Doudna against the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where Feng Zhang and colleagues also did early CRISPR-Cas9 work.

The Broad work is licensed to Cambridge, MA-based Editas Medicine (NASDAQ: EDIT), which earlier this year became the first CRISPR-Cas9 company to go public. Doudna was briefly associated with Editas before cutting ties. With her intellectual property, she cofounded Caribou Biosciences of Berkeley, which in turn has licensed CRISPR-Cas9 technology for use in human therapeutics to Intellia Therapeutics, also of Cambridge.

Doudna was one of four scientists to receive a $1.5 million award from Allen’s new initiative. The others were Ethan Bier of UC San Diego for investigation of how new life forms emerge, Jim Collins of MIT for work on synthetic microbes that Xconomy profiled here, and Bassem Hassan of the French Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle épinière, for work on how differences in individuals can be explored through the lens of neural development.

Allen’s Frontiers Group is also funding new research teams. The first two will be headquartered at Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA, and at Tufts University in Medford, MA. The Stanford group will explore how cells interact with their environment, and the Tufts group will focus on the structure of complex organs.

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