LUNCH WITH THE FT: Jennifer Doudna, scientist and gene editor at the heart of the Crispr maelstrom
The first targets of trials in humans are serious diseases we know are caused by a single gene, but as we understand more about combinations of genes increasing risk factors for other diseases, Crispr could be used more widely
Jennifer Doudna wears her responsibility lightly. The scientist who co-discovered Crispr (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) does not appear to be weighed down by the burden of her creation: the revolutionary gene-editing technology that promises to empower humans to control our own genome. She waves and smiles as she bypasses the hostess stand at Gather, an organic, farm-to-table restaurant in Berkeley. It’s the sort of place that wears its principles on its sleeve — a fitting venue for a discussion of the ethical conundrums that Crispr has unleashed.
Doudna appears to have thrown on her blazer in a rush, squashing down one side of her shirt collar. Since news of her scientific breakthrough was published in 2012, she has learnt to toggle between the white coat of her lab work, building on that initial discovery, and her suited-and-booted role pushing politicians and lawmakers to contemplate the consequences of changing the human genome.