When Andrew Anzalone was done with both his M.D. and Ph.D., he found himself at a crossroads about how to divide his career.
Ultimately, he said, he relied on a gut feeling. After all, when he was doing rotations in the hospital as part of his medical school training, he found himself going back to the projects he had been working on as part of his graduate studies in chemical biology.
“It came down to what my true passion was, and I wanted to pursue research full time,” Anzalone said.
But if he wasn’t going to set out on a clinical career, he wanted his research to have therapeutic applications. And as a postdoc at the Broad Institute, he helped make a key advance in how CRISPR could edit genomes. Last year, he and his colleagues unveiled what they called “prime editing,” which allows CRISPR to swap any one of the “letters” that make up DNA for another.
The technique also allows scientists to insert or delete stretches of DNA more efficiently than previous CRISPR systems, making it a potentially powerful tool for treating diseases that involve these genetic misspellings.
“It came down to what my true passion was, and I wanted to pursue research full time.”
Now, Anzalone is at the biotech startup Prime Medicine, trying to build his discovery into new medicines and, as he said, “to see what’s possible.”
— Andrew Joseph