Mind & body, People, Research

Biographer Walter Isaacson on CRISPR and his new subject, Jennifer Doudna

Acclaimed biographer of Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein turns to biotech and the implications of CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing

Jennifer Doudna and Walter Isaacson pose in the lab with white coats on
Jennifer Doudna and Walter Isaacson together in the Innovative Genomics Institute in 2019, when Isaacson visited for interviews and a short demonstration of how CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing works. (UC Berkeley photo by Roxanne Makasdjian)
In 2019, Walter Isaacson discussed his forthcoming book about Jennifer Doudna and her revolutionary invention, CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing. (UC Berkeley video by Roxanne Makasdjian)

Walter Isaacson, who has written acclaimed biographies of physicist Albert Einstein, computer pioneer Steve Jobs and polymath Benjamin Franklin, has now turned his focus on biotechnology and one of today’s scientific luminaries: UC Berkeley biochemist Jennifer Doudna, winner of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
cover of new book, Codebreaker
His new biography, The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race, published this week by Simon & Schuster, delves into the world of CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing, which Isaacson calls “the third great revolution of modern times,” after that of the atom and digital computers.

During a visit to the Innovative Genomics Institute in September 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, Isaacson sat down with Roxanne Makasdjian, director of broadcast communications at UC Berkeley’s Office of Communications and Public Affairs, to talk about his book, genome editing and the implications this technology has for the planet.