Eric Lander On Genetic Research And The Patent Battle Over CRISPR

Download Audio
Eric Lander, pioneering geneticist and biologist.
Eric Lander, pioneering geneticist and biologist.

A revolutionary method of gene-editing called CRISPR (short for Clustered Regularly-Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) holds the promise of changing the way we think about medicine, biology, and healthcare.

In a perspective piece published in the journal Cell, Eric Lander -- geneticist, biologist and the president of the Broad Institute at MIT and Harvard -- outlined the history of CRISPR and its achievements. However, Lander became embroiled in controversy after it was discovered the Broad Institute is a co-patentee in an intellectual property battle being looked at by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office — and Lander failed to disclose that in his piece.

Lander joins us about CRISPR's significance and patent controversy, and other issues facing the healthcare and biotech industries today.


Eric Lander, pioneering geneticist, biologist and president and founder of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. He tweets @eric_lander.


Here & Now: Is Global Collaboration The Future Of Medicine?

  • "Cancer isn’t the only disease being looked at in a new light. President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative – backed with $200 million – calls for research into other diseases as well, including mental illness. It aims to find treatments suited for individuals, recognizing that treatment is no longer one-size-fits-all. But how do you do that? And what else has to change to make a difference in patient outcomes? Here & Now’s Robin Young discusses this with Eric Lander"

The Washington Post: Eric Lander talks CRISPR and the infamous Nobel ‘rule of three’

  • "In the essay, Lander distributed credit widely for the CRISPR discovery – which rankled some parties who thought they deserved more attention, or felt that Lander had overemphasized the contribution of one of his Broad Institute colleagues. He described CRISPR as the result of many converging innovations, rather than as something that erupted in a classic Eureka! moment."

STAT News: In the CRISPR patent fight, the Broad Institute gains edge in early rulings


  • "In documents made public late this week, the three-judge panel adjudicating the case revealed that oral arguments have been scheduled for Nov. 17. The judges also announced which motions they will and will not entertain, offering a peek into which arguments they are likely to base their decision on. Handicappers had previously laid odds in favor of the University of California, partly because the onus is on the Broad Institute, as the so-called junior party, to demonstrate that the patent office’s original decision awarding it key CRISPR patents was correct. But from the tea leaves offered by the judges’ rulings on which motions can be filed, the odds have shifted toward the Broad."

CommonHealth: ‘Heroes Of CRISPR’: Vivid Yarn And Lessons Learned From A Scientific Leap Ahead

  • "Everybody loves a good fight, but the import of CRISPR for humankind is not the conflict or the money. It’s that this new gene-editing technology is indisputably transforming biological research around the world, speeding up discoveries in areas from cancer to crop science."

This segment aired on April 25, 2016.


More from Radio Boston

Listen Live