PLENARY SPEAKERS

All plenary sessions will be presented in Alumni Hall, Auditorium, 7th Floor.

MELLON LECTURE
Development of CRISPR-Cas Systems for Genome Editing
11:00 a.m., Friday, 19 October

Feng Zhang, PhD
James and Patricia Poitras Professor of Neuroscience
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Feng Zhang, PhD, pioneered the use of CRISPR genome editing in eukaryotic cells. Through his work and the work of many others, CRISPR systems have been harnessed to precisely, efficiently cut DNA segments at virtually any spot on the genome. The technique enables genetic modification to potentially correct genetic defects, enhance antimicrobial therapy, and modify crop strains, among countless other uses. In 2013, Zhang and colleagues published a breakthrough paper detailing the first successful genome editing of mammalian cells using CRISPR-Cas9, paving the way for a revolutionary new therapeutic modality. His lab has continued to push the field forward through discovery and characterization of novel CRISPR systems, including CRISPR-Cas13, which targets RNA rather than DNA, and the development of molecular tools based on Cas enzymes.

Zhang received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry and physics from Harvard University and his PhD in chemistry from Stanford University. In 2011, he became a core member of the Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University and an investigator at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT. He is the recipient of many honors and awards, including the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research, the Blavatnik Award for Young Scientists, the Canada Gairdner International Award, and an NIH Director’s Pioneer Award.

Most recently, Zhang received the 2018 Keio Medical Science Prize from Keio University in Japan.