WI Harper Group | October 7, 2020
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2020 was awarded jointly to Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna for the development of a method for genome editing. Dr. Doudna co-discovered the programmable gene editing capabilities of CRISPR eight years ago, paving the way for modern genome engineering.
WI Harper Group extends its congratulations to Dr. Doudna’s accomplishments, and looks forward to her continued work with genomics and WI Group’s portfolio company Synthego. Dr. Doudna joined Synthego’s Scientific Advisory Board in March 2018. The company recently raised a $100M round led by Wellington, RA Capital and 8VC.
WI Harper Group Advisor Peidong Yang, who is a fellow colleague of Dr. Doudna that has joint publications and patents, celebrated her induction earlier this afternoon in Berkeley California.
Jennifer Doudna was born in 1964 and is currently a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. Emmanuel Charpentier was born in 1968 and is currently the director of the Max Planck Institute for Biological Infection and a visiting professor at Umeå University in Sweden. In 2011, Doudna began to cooperate with Charpentier to develop CRISPR technology. A year later, the two female biologists published a paper in the journal Science laying the foundation for the development of the CRISPR-Cas9 system. This allowed significant improvement in the efficiency of gene editing by cutting DNA at a “point-to-point” in vitro experiment. The two scientists were named the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2015, and received multiple life science awards including the Life Science Breakthrough Award.
In March 2018, Professor Doudna was invited to join the scientific advisory board (SAB) of Synthego, a genome engineering company invested by WI Harper Group. Professor Doudna’s professional knowledge and experience has brought Synthego’s insight and understanding of CRISPR to a new level, enhancing: standardization, ease of use, accuracy and repeatability of the CRISPR workflow. With her help, Synthego continues to help customers simplify and accelerate genetic engineering related work.
The CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system is one of the most important biological discoveries of this century. In 2015, “Science” named it an annual breakthrough; the scientists who helped the birth of this technology also won the “Breakthrough Prize” known as the “Scientific Oscar”, which has a profound impact in the molecular biology community. “Gruber Genetics Prize” and the “Warren Alpert Prize” for major biomedical breakthroughs. In the December 2014 issue of “Global Science”, the article “Editing Genes: Faster, More Accurate, and Simple” introduced the mechanism, development history and prospects of this technology in detail. Although controversy still exists, there is no doubt that this emerging technology, which was named “Science Breakthrough of the Year” by “Science” magazine in 2015, is ushering in a new era.
Synthego, invested by WI Harper Group, is also promoting the further development of its CRISPR gene editing solutions, gene screening and engineered cell line platform. Synthego was founded by former SpaceX engineers, Paul and Michael Dabrowski, and has been committed to providing academic researchers and biopharmaceutical companies with key materials and experimental services needed for gene editing. Starting from the full-stack gene editing project, Synthego has built a set of advanced biological information and automation hardware platforms to create a new generation of molecular biology research and development tools. These world-leading tools developed by Synthego will accelerate the development of basic scientific research, treatment of critical diseases, and synthetic biology applications.
Synthego uses CRISPR technology to provide “full-stack” genetic engineering services, allowing every researcher to use CRISPR technology to conduct research simply, conveniently and efficiently. The current main products include cloud intelligent design and analysis tools, CRISPR solutions and various engineered cell lines (iPS cell gene editing services have also been launched recently).
So far, Synthego’s products have been used in more than 45 countries; more than 58,345 gene editing has been performed (an increase from 10,337 in January 2017); and it has been cited by more than 425 papers, covering various aspects from gene function verification and disease Models are built into many fields such as primary cells and iPS.
| About WI Harper Group
WI Harper is a pioneer and leading cross-border venture capital firm investing in early and expansion stage companies globally. With offices in San Francisco, Beijing, and Taipei, the firm actively oversees more than $1 billion in assets under management. Since inception nearly three decades ago, WI Harper has invested in over 400 startups and has successfully experienced more than 100 IPO and M&A exits.
We look for innovative companies and visionary founders in healthcare, technology and sustainability fields where there are high synergies and meaningful value added cross selling opportunities. While our healthcare team is presently honing on bioinformatics and digital biology, our technology team is focused blockchain, big data, analytics, artificial intelligence, AR/VR, IoT, robotics, drones, autonomous driving, as well as digital media and green energy projects.