When scientists mapped the human genome in 2001, it marked the start of a new scientific era. Now, the real excitement—and power—in genetics lies in manipulating the genome to alter DNA so we can prevent diseases and improve human health. That’s what Kathy Niakan is doing. She’s begun to apply the technique for editing the genome that Emmanuelle Charpentier and I developed, called CRISPR, to study the effects of genes in human development. Niakan’s work will answer previously unanswerable questions about the earliest stages of human reproduction—what makes a healthy embryo, what factors contribute to infertility and what goes wrong when pregnancies don’t progress as planned. Her experiments are setting the stage for a future in which our DNA represents not just our destiny but opportunity as well, a chance to better the human condition—as long as we tread carefully.
Doudna is a biochemist at the University of California, Berkeley, and co-inventor of CRISPR
- TIME's Top 100 Photos of 2022
- I Tested Positive for COVID-19 Right Before the Holidays. What Should I Do?
- Column: How To Create a Sense of Belonging In a Divided America
- How to Survive the Holidays if You're a Scrooge
- Life Expectancy Provides Evidence of How Far Black Americans Have Come
- The 10 Best Albums of 2022
- Iran Has a Long History of Protest and Activism
- 6 Ways to Give Better Gifts—Based on Science