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Cameron Myhrvold

Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

The most famous CRISPR enzyme may be Cas9, which cuts genetic material at the genome editor’s targeted site. But for Cameron Myhrvold, it’s another enzyme, called Cas13, that’s drawn his attention.

“Science isn’t something you just learn about from reading a textbook,” he said. “It’s something you participate in.”

Myhrvold, a postdoc at the Broad Institute, has found that Cas13-based CRISPR systems hold potential as tools to both detect viruses and destroy them — features that, as the pandemic has shown, “now more than ever are really important,” he said. He was already studying those applications when Covid-19 struck, and has since worked on developing CRISPR-based diagnostics for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. 

“It’s taken everything that I said I wanted to do a few years from now and made it the No. 1 problem in the world right now,” Myhrvold said.

Myhrvold, who grew up in Seattle and whose hobbies include hiking and wildlife photography, was drawn to science as he came to understand in school that it was not solely something you studied.

“Science isn’t something you just learn about from reading a textbook,” he said. “It’s something you participate in.”

And he’s about to have a lot more science to do: In January, he’ll be starting his own lab at Princeton, with a plan to continue developing CRISPR-based technologies, including with Cas13.

—  Andrew Joseph

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