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Fyodor Urnov, PhD, is a pioneer in the field of genome editing and one of the scientists most invested in expanding the availability and utility of CRISPR-based therapies to the broadest possible population. He envisions a world in which genome editing can treat the nearly 400 million people who are suffering from one of the 7000 diseases brought on by gene mutations.

After his PhD in 1996 from Brown University, Urnov worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Alan Wolffe at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In 2000, Urnov joined Wolffe in moving to Sangamo Therapeutics in California. During his 16 years at Sangamo, Urnov and his colleagues performed the first demonstration using zinc-finger nucleases to modify DNA in human cells in 2005, coining the term “genome editing” in the process.1

After that, Urnov led collaborative teams that created large-scale genome editing applications in crop genetics, model animal reverse genetics, and human somatic cell genetics. While at Sangamo, Urnov also led a cross-functional team from basic discovery to the initial design of the first-in-human clinical trials...