Caribou Biosciences

Caribou Biosciences

Caribou Biosciences is a Berkeley California based private company founded in 2011 by Jennifer Doudna and Rachel Haurwitz based on CRISPR technology.

Caribou Biosciences is headquartered in Berkeley, California and was founded in 2011 by to James Berger, Jennifer A. Doudna, Martin Jinek, and Rachel E. Haurwitz. The company uses CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Palindromic Repeats) technology, based on a bacterial defense system against viruses, as a biotechnology tool. Co-founder and CEO Racheal Haurwitz was formerly a PhD student mentored by co-founder Jennifer Doudna at UC Berkeley, one of the inventors that turned this bacterial defense system into a customizable gene editing system.

Caribou Biosciences is applying CRISPR-Cas technology to therapeutics, agriculture, biological research and industrial biotech. Caribou co-founded Intellia Therapeutics in 2014 to use CRISPR-Cas9 to develop cures to diseases like blood disorders and cancer. Caribou is also working on developing medicine for pets and agricultural livestock. It is working on antimicrobial therapies and the large-scale production of biological therapeutics. In a TechCrunch interview Haurwitz said that Caribou Biosciences has no plans to edit human embryos.

CRISPR Technology

CRISPR sequences contain copies of viral DNA sequences that the bacteria use as a guide to locate invading viral DNA. The CRISPR system makes an RNA guide for the target sequence that directs a Cas (CRISPR-associated) protein to cut foreign DNA. Dr. Jennifer Doudna at UC Berkeley and Dr. Emmanuelle Charpentier now at Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology, Berlin, co-invented the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system, which makes it possible for scientists to design custom RNA guides that target CRISPR-Cas9 to a desired genetic sequence in any genome for editing.

When CRISPR induces double stranded DNA breaks the cellular repair process causes some of the DNA sequence to be lost, which can disrupt gene function. While targeted disruption of genes is useful for some applications, the ability to change the DNA sequence to that of an introduced DNA template has broadened the applications of this technology. It is also possible to use CRISPR-Cas to make certain DNA changes without cutting. A modified CRISPR system uses a form of Cas9 with its cutting function inactivated, combined with other proteins to turn up or down gene expression levels without changing the DNA sequence.

There is a patent dispute between Doudna’s research team and the Broad Institute (MIT and Harvard) over the invention of CRISPR-Cas9 technology for use in human cells. The US patent granted to the Broad Institute is under appeal. The European patent office has revoked this first patent obtained by the Broad Institute citing lack of novelty. The European patent office has granted patents to the University of California and University of Vienna. One for using the CRISPR-Cas9 system across prokaryotic and eukaryotic systems and another for a modified form of CRISPR-Cas9 to regulate gene expression. Numerous patents have been assigned to Caribou Biosciences for CRISPR-Cas9 adaptations and other molecular biology materials.



Caribou Biosciences co-founded Intellia Therapeutics to use the Caribou CRISPR-Cas9 platform to develop therapeutics. Intellia Therapeutics is working with Regeneron to develop a gene knockout strategy for Transthyretin Amyloidosis (ATTR). CRISPR-Cas9 technology to knock out Hepatitis B Virus is being tested in animal models. Intellia is also developing the technology for gene editing in Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (AATD) and Primary Hyperoxaluria (PH-1). Novartis is collaborating with Intellia to edit hemopoietic stem cells ex vivo at the BCL11A gene to treat Sickle Cell Disease. The two companies are also collaborating on Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cell (CAR-T) strategies which modify the immune system so it better targets cancer.

Caribou Biosciences is developing cancer treatments in-house that target microbes that live on humans and other anti-microbial therapies.

Agricultural Biotech

Caribou Biosciences is collaborating with animal genetics company Genus (Basingstoke, UK) to improve the welfare of food producing animals. They are developing Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome virus (PRRSv) resistant pigs. CRISPR-Cas9 technology was used to edit the CD163 gene in pigs, which makes the PRRSv unable to infect them.

DuPont collaborated with Caribou Biosciences to create drought and disease resistant waxy corn with CRISPR gene editing.

Biological Research

The Caribou technology platform is used to investigate the role of gene mutations in disease and find druggable targets. Manipulating gene function with CRISPR-Cas9 technology is also used to understand the normal function of genes.

Industrial Biotech

The production of chemicals and enzymes for research and therapeutics requires cell factories for fermentation. Caribou Biosciences aims to improve microbial production strains for the production of therapeutic products. They are also using their technology to enable the bio-based production of materials never produced by microbes before, like fragrances, flavors, industrial cleaning products and products used in transportation.


Series A

On April 2, 2015 Caribou Biosciences completed their series A funding round with $11 million in funding from Fidelity Biosciences, Novartis, Mission Bay Capital, 5 Prime Ventures, and an undisclosed strategic partner.

Series B

On May 16, 2016 Caribou Biosciences completed their series B funding round with $30 million in funding from Anterra Capital, Heritage Group, Maverick Capital Ventures, Pontifax AgTech, F-Prime Capital Partners, Novartis, Mission Bay Capital, and 5 Prime Ventures.


Funding rounds

Funding round
Funding type
Funding round amount (USD)
Funding round date
Caribou Biosciences Series A Funding Round March 2015
3 Results
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Alex Feerst


Alexander Pack


Andy May


AngelList Syndicates Fund Manager


Antoun Nabhan


Barbara McClung

Chief Legal Officer, Corporate Secretary

Barry Cynamon


Chris Fuller

VP Informatics

Chris Wittenborn


David Beyer


David Stevenson


Dominic Rubas


Evan Cheng


Greg Chase


James Berger


Jason Byun


Jeff Huber


Jeff Rich


Jennifer Doudna


Jenny Rooke


Jenny Rooke

Board member

Jeremy Katz


Jeremy LaTrasse


Jesse Robbins


Joe Bunting


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Further reading


Editing the software of life, for fame and fortune

Upson, S.

How the battle lines over CRISPR were drawn

Cohen, J.

This scientist turned CEO wants to gene-edit a way to cure cancer

Molly Fosco

Documentaries, videos and podcasts


Caribou Biosciences

October 18, 2018

Clipping out cancer with Caribou Biosciences | Disrupt NY 2017

May 16, 2017

Hacking the Genome / WHAT'S NEXT?

October 6, 2016

Panel: Next Generation Cell and Gene Therapy in Oncology

October 18, 2018

Precision Gene Editing with Caribou Biosciences

May 16, 2017




John Leonard

Cambridge, MA



Ben Adams
May 12, 2020
After a relatively quiet few years, Caribou Biosciences has hired Cherry Thomas, M.D., as its new senior vice president of clinical development.
May 7, 2020
Caribou Biosciences and MaxCyte Enter into Clinical and Commercial License Agreement - read this article along with other careers information, tips and advice on BioSpace
May 11, 2020
Caribou Biosciences Appoints Cherry Thomas, MD as Senior Vice President of Clinical Development - read this article along with other careers information, tips and advice on BioSpace


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