genomics lite: CRISPR in focus

exploring the genome editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 and its use in genomics research
Date: 
Thu 25th Nov,
4:30pm to 5:45pm

This session will explore what CRISPR is, how it works, and how it can be applied in genomics research to better understand gene function and disease, as well as highlighting the career journey of our guest speaker. 

Our guest speaker for Genomics Lite: CRISPR in Focus is Olivia Edwards, a PhD Student researching cancer using CRISPR and single cell analysis. 

Session recording:

Learn more about CRISPR and genome editing

These resources are designed to support and further attendees' understanding of CRISPR and genome editing, and are aimed at students in upper secondary years (e.g. year 10 and higher). 

What is genome editing and CRISPR?

  • Genome editing is a way of making specific changes to the DNA of a cell or organism. CRISPR/Cas9 is a genome editing tool that is faster, cheaper and more accurate than other tools available.
  • Watch this video to find out how CRISPR lets scientists edit DNA:

  • CRISPR is able to replace or remove sections of DNA by acting as a pair of 'molecular scissors'. This 3D interactive shows the molecular mechanism of CRISPR. 
  • In 2020, Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuella Charpentier won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their breakthrough work on CRISPR technology, becoming the first two women to share thr prize. Read this interview by the Nobel Prize team to learn more about how Jennifer got into science and why she thinks diversity in science is so important.
  • CRISPR has great potential for use in genomics research - allowing scientist to edit genes to better understand their effects - and potentially in removing or replacing disease-related genetic mutations in humans. However, the tool has also been found to cause more that just the intended genetic changes.

Genome editing controversies

  • Germline genome editing (that targets reproductive cells) has been long debated before CRISPR became a viable tool. Targeting reproductive cells with gene therapy means that edited DNA will be passed down to the next generation, who can then pass it on to future generations. This debate page highlights some of the potential benefits and risks of germline genome editing.
  • A recent controversy involving CRISPR occured when a Chinese scientist announced that he had created the world’s first gene edited babies. This video highlights what the scientists did, and the potential dangers involved: