Women & Science

GMOs, CRISPR, and Modern Agriculture



PROGRAM 8:00–9:00 A.M.



Nina V. Fedoroff, Ph.D.

Evan Pugh Professor Emerita
The Pennsylvania State University


Richard P. Lifton, M.D., Ph.D.

The Rockefeller University

Nina V. Fedoroff, Ph.D.CRISPR is a revolutionary technology that enables scientists to make targeted edits in the genome of any organism. Using CRISPR to introduce adaptive traits directly into the DNA of plants that provide our food, it is possible to produce higher yielding crops that are more nutritious and more resistant to diseases and pests, as well as more tolerant of the weather extremes of the warming climate. Although molecular techniques to create genetically modified crop plants (also known as genetically modified organisms or GMOs) have existed since the 1970s, CRISPR is much more precise than earlier methods.

One of the first molecular biologists to experiment with the genetic modification of plants, Rockefeller alumna Dr. Nina Fedoroff '72 has long championed the development of GMOs for agriculture to increase yields and to make farming more sustainable. She has held a number of advisory positions in government, most notably serving as the Science and Technology Adviser to Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton. In 2004, she co-authored the influential book Mendel in the Kitchen: A Scientist’s View of Genetically Modified Foods with science writer Nancy Marie Brown.

Dr. Fedoroff earned a B.S. in biology and chemistry from Syracuse University and a Ph.D. in molecular biology from The Rockefeller University. She served as a scientific staff member of the Carnegie Institution for Science from 1975 to 1995, then joined the Pennsylvania State University, where she is now Evan Pugh Professor Emerita. She established the Center for Desert Agriculture at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, serving as Distinguished Professor of the Life Sciences from 2011 to 2014. Dr. Fedoroff is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the European Academy of Sciences, and the International Academy of Food Sciences and Technology. For her contributions to the field of molecular biology, Dr. Fedoroff was awarded a National Medal of Science in 2006 and an honorary doctorate from The Rockefeller University in 2008.

For more information, please contact Rebecca Wahrman at
(212) 327-7285 or rwahrman@rockefeller.edu.

Honorary Chairman

David Rockefeller

Founding Chairmen

Lydia A. Forbes
Isabel P. Furlaud
Nancy M. Kissinger
Sydney R. Shuman

2017 W&S Chairmen

Judith Roth Berkowitz
Debra Black
Rebecca A. John
Denise Kellen
Samantha Boardman Rosen, M.D.
Patricia P. Rosenwald
Lulu C. Wang

2017 W&S Committee

full committee listing

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