2019 Donald J. Cram Distinguished Lecture

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Professor Jennifer Doudna (University of California, Berkeley) gave the 2019 Donald J Cram Distinguished Lecture on November 14.  

Enthusiastic students, postdocs, researchers, and faculty members attended the standing-room-only lecture in the CS 50 lecture hall, which was followed by a reception at the Luskin Center. Select photos from the event can be viewed below and the full photo gallery is available here. UCLA’s student-run newspaper The Daily Bruin featured an in-depth article about Doudna’s lecture and research.

In his introduction, the Donald J. Cram Chair in Organic Chemistry Professor Patrick Harran spoke about Nobel Laureate and UCLA faculty member the late Donald Cram, whom both the lecture and the Cram chair, honors.

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In his introductory remarks, Professor Patrick Harran spoke about the late Professor Donald Cram, whom the lecture honors.

In her opening remarks, Doudna spoke about her love of science and she encouraged the students in the audience to follow their passion. “You are the future of science.  All of you have this potential to do what you want.  Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t.”

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In Doudna’s lecture, titled “CRISPR Chemistry and Applications of Genome Editing”, she discussed how bacterial CRISPR adaptive immunesystems inspire creation of powerful genome editing tools, enabling advances infundamental biology, agricultural science, and biomedicine.  She also discussed the ethical challenges of some of these applications. 

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Before her lecture, Doudna posed for photos with postdocs and students.

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Students and faculty visited with Doudna at the reception following the lecture at the Luskin Center.

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(Left) Harran and Doudna (Right) Harran, Profs. Heather Maynard, Michael Jung, Todd Yeates, David Eisenberg, and Paul Weiss.

About Professor Jennifer Doudna

Professor Jennifer Doudna is the Li Ka Shing Chancellor’s Chair and a Professor in the Departments of Chemistry and of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, as well as an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Her co-discovery of CRISPR-Cas9 genetic engineering technology, with collaborator, French scientist Emmanuelle Charpentier, has changed human and agricultural genomics research forever. This genome-editing technology enables scientists to change or remove genes quickly, with a precision only dreamed of just a few years ago. Labs worldwide have re-directed the course of their research programs to incorporate this new tool, creating a CRISPR revolution with huge implications across biology and medicine. In addition to her scientific achievements and eminence, Doudna is also a leader in public discussion of the ethical and other implications of genome editing for human biology and societies, and advocates for thoughtful approaches to the development of policies around the use of CRISPR-Cas9. She has received many prizes for her discoveries, including the Japan Prize (2016), the Kavli Prize (2018), and the LUI Che Woo Welfare Betterment Prize (2019). In 2015, Doudna was named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

About the Donald J. Cram Lecture

Professor Donald J. Cram was a Nobel Prize-winning chemist who taught and conducted research at UCLA for more than 50 years. An endowment was established in his memory and it began sponsoring departmental events in 2002. The first of these was the “50 Year of Cram’s Rule” symposium. This was followed by the Cram Debate in 2003 and the Cram Colloquy in 2005. Professor Patrick Harran, the first Donald J. Cram Chair in Organic Chemistry, established and hosts the Cram Lectureship, inviting renowned, international chemists to meet with the faculty and students in the UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. The inaugural lecture was given by Prof. Francois Diederich (ETH-Zurich, UCLA) in 2010 followed by Prof. Andrew Meyers (Harvard) in 2012, Prof. Barry Sharpless (Scripps) in 2013, and Prof. David Milstein (Weizmann Institute) in 2015, and Prof. Kevan Shokat (UCSF) in 2017.

Photos and article by Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, penny@chem.ucla.edu.