“One of the most exciting things is the way that CRISPR is going to accelerate genetic understanding. There are a number of things for which we now could have more than a shot in the dark cure.”
Ross Wilson is a professor of biochemistry, biophysics, and structural biology at UC Berkeley, and Principal Investigator at the Innovative Genomics Institute.
Wilson became interested in biochemistry and structural biology, and earned his Ph.D. in Mark Foster’s lab. He spent part of his graduate career unraveling the structure of archeal RNase P, an enzyme with both protein and RNA subunits that is required for the maturation of tRNA, and another part modeling the structure and biochemical properties of a bacterial riboswitch involved in the regulation of gene expression. When it came time to pursue a postdoc, he was drawn to Jennifer Doudna’s lab.
The Wilson lab focuses on engineering genome editing enzymes for cell-targeted delivery. CRISPR-based genome editing technology has rapidly transformed biomedical research and shows great promise for the development of novel therapeutic applications. Enzymes such as Cas9 already contain several powerful properties: binding to a specific region of the genome and performing a precise cut at that site. This provides the foundation for therapies that may soon be able to correct the genetic defects that give rise to disease. But for this promise to be fully realized, therapeutic enzymes must be delivered to cells safely and efficiently. Wilson’s laboratory is working to develop genome-editing enzymes that are readily internalized by cells.