Here comes CRISPR: The game-changing power of genome engineering
- Sunday, October 19th, 9:30 am to 10:30 am
- Bellows ABCD, Hilton Columbus Downtown
- George M. ChurchProfessor of genetics, Harvard Medical School; director, PersonalGenomes.org, Harvard University
Four decades after the first direct manipulation of DNA by humans, genome engineering has suddenly become something you can do in your garage. The technology transforming the field is called CRISPR, for “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats.” CRISPRs are scavenged DNA “spacers” that bacteria use to defend against viruses; today they are being harnessed in the lab as precise, efficient genome editors. CRISPR systems, which include a DNA-slicing enzyme, can be instructed to edit the genome of a human cell so as to silence, enhance or change a specific gene. This year, MIT scientists used CRISPR to cure a rare liver disorder in mice. What’s next? George Church is working on multiple applications of CRISPR and also calling for public discussion about the ecological and ethical implications of this exploding technology. His lab is working on "gene drives" that could alter or eliminate whole populations of pests by editing their genomes and then blocking evolutionary feedback loops.
For supplemental information about this New Horizons in Science briefing, see the CASW website .