Jennifer Doudna, PhD, and Jonathan Weissman, PhD. Photo by Barbara Ries

Newswise — GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK) has launched a five-year, $67 million collaboration with the San Francisco and Berkeley campuses of the University of California to build a state-of-the-art laboratory that will use CRISPR technologies to explore how genes cause disease and to rapidly accelerate the discovery of new medicines.

Known as the Laboratory for Genomic Research (LGR), the partnership will be headed by Dr. Hal Barron, chief scientific officer and president, R&D, at GSK; UCSF’s Jonathan Weissman, PhD, professor of cellular and molecular pharmacology, who has pioneered new applications of CRISPR for biological research; and CRISPR co-inventor Jennifer Doudna, PhD, professor of biochemistry, biophysics and structural biology at UC Berkeley.

The new lab will be housed on Illinois Street adjacent to UCSF’s Mission Bay campus. Once fully established, it will provide facilities for 24 University employees funded by GSK as well as up to 14 GSK employees, with a focus on immunology, neuroscience, and oncology. GSK’s machine learning group will build computational pipelines to analyze the extensive data the LGR will produce.

“Over the last seven years, CRISPR has transformed academic research, but until the LGR, we haven’t had a focused effort to catalyze the kind of research we know will lead to new innovation using this CRISPR tool,” said Doudna. “The LGR is about building that space where creative science is partnered with the development of robust technology that will help develop tomorrow’s drugs. I think we’re going to be able to do science that none of us can even imagine today.”