Koonin, CRISPR and the war

Working with Estonian-American scientist Kira Makarova, in 2002 Eugene Koonin identified the genetic region known as CRISPR-Cas. Three years later his group discovered its natural function. He continues to work on microbial defense systems.

“Science in times of war: oppose Russian aggression but support Russian scientists” is the heartfelt article recently published by Eugene Koonin in EMBO Reports. Koonin is a leading evolutionary molecular biologist and a CRISPR pioneer. Born and raised in Moscow, he left the USSR a few weeks before it dissolved in 1991 and moved to the US where he works at the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI-NIH).

He was elected Member of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA in 2016 and Foreign Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) in 2019 but resigned from the second one at the end of February this year. You can read why in the excerpt below, and learn more about his outstanding contribution to science and the CRISPR field in this PNAS profile.

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CasX: the smaller the crispier

cas treeTime will tell if it is going to become the preferred enzyme for genome editing or just another useful tool in the expanding CRISPR kit. But the future of CasX looks bright. It is much smaller than the nucleases that have provided a foundation for this technology. Being fewer than a thousand amino acids, it offers clear advantages for delivery in comparison with Cas9, that is over 1,300 Aa. Continue reading