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2018 Program Tang Prize Award Lecture

2018 EB Tang Prize Award Lecture

Dr. Feng Zhang is an Investigator at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Core Member of the Broad Institute and Associate Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Biological Engineering at MIT. He was born in China, but moved to the United States when he was 11. He is a bioengineer with interests in developing tools for investigating neuroscience and human diseases. His previous work led to the development of “optogenetics” technology for regenerating nerve cells. His critical role in CRISPR technology was the first adaptation and demonstration in mammalian cells.

He will present his lecture "Harnessing Nature's Diversity for Gene Editing and Beyond" on Saturday, April 21, 2018 at 6:00 pm in the San Diego Convention Center, Ballroom 20ABC

About Dr. Zhang's Lecture

Precision genome editing, the ability to alter specific DNA sequences, is a powerful tool for understanding the molecular circuitry underlying cellular processes. Over the past several years, we and others have harnessed microbial CRISPR-Cas systems for use as platforms for a range of genome manipulations, including single and multiplex gene knockout, gene activation, and large-scale screening applications. Recently, we discovered and characterized several novel CRISPR systems that target RNA, including the CRISPR-Cas13 family. We recently reported that Cas13 can be reprogrammed using a single RNA guide to cleave target mRNAs in vivo and that a dead variant of Cas13 (dCas13), created through mutation of the RNase domain, retains target specificity and binding activity. dCas13 provides a platform for a range of RNA-modulation applications, including transcript imaging and RNA editing. Cas13 also exhibits so-called “collateral” activity in vitro, which we capitalized on to create SHERLOCK, a highly sensitive and specific CRISPR diagnostic platform. We are continuing to explore microbial diversity to find new enzymes and systems that can be adapted for use as molecular biology tools and novel therapeutics.

About the Tang Prize

In the advent of industrialization and globalization, humanity has greatly enjoyed the convenience brought about by science and technology, reaping unprecedented benefits made possible by progress and development. Yet, humanity also faces a multitude of critical environmental, socio-cultural, and ethical issues on an unparalleled scale, such as climate change, inequality, and moral degradation. Against this backdrop, Dr. Samuel Yin established the Tang Prize in December 2012 to encourage individuals across the globe to chart the middle path to achieving sustainable development by recognizing and supporting contributors for their revolutionary efforts in the four major fields of Sustainable Development, Biopharmaceutical Science, Sinology, and Rule of Law. The Tang Prize is truly global in reach, with laureates selected on the basis of the originality of their work along with their contributions to society irrespective of their nationality or ethnicity.

Rooted in the long-standing cultural traditions of Chinese philosophical thinking and in an outlook of convergence and mutual enrichment with other traditions, the Tang Prize aims to provide fresh impetus to promote first-class research and development in the 21st century. Ultimately, the Tang Prize seeks to bring about positive change to the global community and to create a brighter future for all humanity.

About the Prize in Biopharmaceutical Science

The Tang Prize in Biopharmaceutical Science recognizes original biopharmaceutical or biomedical research that has led to significant advances towards preventing, diagnosing and/or treating major human diseases to improve human health.  

The 2014 Tang Prize in Biopharmaceutical Science was awarded to James P. Allison (2015 EB Tang Prize Award Lecture) and Tasuku Honjo (2016 EB Tang Prize Award Lecture) for the discoveries of CTLA-4 and PD-1 as immune inhibitory molecules that led to their applications in cancer immunotherapy.

The 2016 Tang Prize (2017 EB Tang Prize Award Lecture) in Biopharmaceutical Science was awarded to Emmanuelle Charpentier, Jennifer A. Doudna, and Feng Zhang for the development of CRISPR/Cas9 as a breakthrough genome editing platform that promises to revolutionize biomedical research and disease treatment.

For more information on these laureates, please visit the Tang Prize Foundation website.


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