Virginijus Šikšnys is a Lithuanian biochemist. He studied organic chemistry at Vilnius University and obtained his Masters degree in 1978. He then moved to the Lomonosov Moscow State University to study enzyme kinetics, where, in 1983, he obtained a Candidate of Sciences degree, equivalent to a PhD.
After Moscow, Šikšnys went back to Vilnius to work at the Institute of Applied Enzymology. Aside from a brief period in 1993 when he was a visiting scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry, in Martinsried, Germany, he has spent his entire career in the Lithuanian capital.
Šikšnys’s main research interests focused for many years on the role of restriction enzymes in combating viruses. Inspired by a 2007 paper that reported the adaptive immune system provided by the CRISPR DNA sequence in bacteria, he began working on understanding the role of the enzyme Cas9 in CRISPR. His work led to the publication of a paper in 2012 that demonstrated how the CRISPR-Cas9 system can be used in gene editing.
Šikšnys is now Head of the Department of Protein-DNA Interactions at the Vilnius University Institute of Biotechnology. For his work he has received numerous awards, including the Warren Alpert Foundation Prize and the Novozymes Prize.