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In this week’s episode of STAT’s “First Opinion Podcast,” I talk with journalist, historian, and author Walter Isaacson about his First Opinion, “CRISPR rivals put patents aside to help in the fight against Covid-19.” It was adapted from his latest book, “The Code Breaker,” about the revolutionary gene editing tool known as CRISPR and the transcontinental rivalry it spawned.

We talked about how the Covid-19 pandemic prompted the two key CRISPR teams, one led by Jennifer Doudna in California and the other by Feng Zhang in Massachusetts, to forgo patents and put their work creating CRISPR-based home tests for Covid-19 in the public domain. We also talked about what he learned about CRISPR and gene editing by sitting on the balcony of his home in the French Quarter of New Orleans watching a busy weekend unfold.


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