Personal Genetics Education Project

Selected recent events

Deep Dive: The Ethics of CRISPR, Los Angeles, CA, September 21, 2017 (invited speaker)

pgEd director Ting Wu and advisor George Church joined Shakir Cannon (Minority Coalition for Precision Medicine) and Michael Friend (MCPM and Health Ministries Network) as featured speakers at a pair of salons for filmmakers, organized by the Science & Entertainment Exchange of the National Academy of Sciences. These events, one hosted by NeueHouse Los Angeles and the second at the home of Jerry and Janet Zucker, focused on genome editing – both the potential of these breakthrough technologies as well as the ethical questions and implications for social justice.

Biotech and its Representations in Popular Culture – ‘Orphan Black,’ Durham, NC, September 15, 2017 (invited panelists)

Marnie and Johnny discussed the portrayal of genetics and geneticists in the Canadian science fiction television series, Orphan Black, as part of a panel at the Duke University Health Humanities & Social Justice conference. This was an interdisciplinary discussion that also featured Orphan Black alums, Cosima Herter and Mackenzie Donaldson, and English professors, Everett Hamner, Rebekah Sheldon, and Priscilla Wald.

National Society of Genetic Counselors annual conference, Columbus, OH, September 14, 2017 (invited speaker)

Marnie joined Dr. Kareem Washington, who spoke in the place of Dr. Tshaka Cunningham, and Pastor Chad Baldanza in a panel moderated by genetic counselor, Molly McGinnis (Illumina), on “Achieving True Diversity in the Age of Genomic Medicine.” Marnie’s talk highlighted the importance of engaging all communities in a dialogue to shape the path forward. Over 100 genetic counselors turned out for this session that addressed how genetic counselors can get involved.

CRISPRcon, Berkeley, CA, August 16-17 (invited panelist)

Ting joined Roxi Beck (Center for Food Integrity), Rick Loverd (Science & Entertainment Exchange) and Michael Specter (The New Yorker) on the panel “CRISPR in the Public Eye: Societal perceptions of science” at CRISPRcon, a conference on “Science, Society, and the Future of Gene Editing.” pgEd and the Minority Coalition for Precision Medicine co-hosted a breakout session on “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the CRISPR Debate” that centered on how to meaningfully engage underrepresented voices so that perspectives from all communities are a part of the dialogue on genome editing.

Summer Institute: Genetics and Social Justice, Boston, MA, July 11-12 (organizer)

pgEd held our sixth annual Summer Institute for teachers at Harvard Medical School. This two-day workshop on Genetics and Social Justice explored select topics from pgEd’s lesson plans and included a brainstorming session that solicited feedback from the 24 teachers in attendance on a new curricular unit pgEd is developing on Genetics and Identity.

Teaching the Genome Generation Course for High School Teachers, The Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, ME, July 9-14, 2017 (course faculty)

For the third year, Dana led the ethics strand of a week-long integrated professional development course on molecular genetics, bioinformatics, and bioethics in collaboration with The Jackson Laboratory. This course, funded by the NIH Science Education Partnership Award, draws high school teachers from in and around Maine.

Summer Institute: Genetics and Social Justice, Brockton High School, Brockton, MA, June 27-29 (organizer)

For the first time, pgEd took our summer professional development workshop for teachers on the road for the first time as part of our NIH-funded ARC (Building Awareness, Respect, and Confidence through Genetics) project. Hosted by Brockton High School, the workshop brought together 30 educators from the sciences, social sciences, and humanities for sessions on the intersection of genetics and social justice and an encore presentation on genetics and space travel in the school’s planetarium. Three attendees, who travelled from South Dakota to participate in the workshop, are partnering with pgEd to host a workshop in Sioux Falls, SD in summer 2018.

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2017 Summer Institute for teachers, Brockton, MA

Teaching the Genome Generation Course for High School Teachers, The Jackson Laboratory, Hartford, CT, June 25-30, 2017 (course faculty)

For the third year, Dana led the ethics strand of a week-long integrated professional development course on molecular genetics, bioinformatics, and bioethics in collaboration with The Jackson Laboratory. This course, funded by the NIH Science Education Partnership Award, draws high school teachers from in and around Connecticut.

CRISPR Workshop II, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, June 17-18, 2017 (invited participant)

Ting represented pgEd at a workshop that brought together a small and interdisciplinary group of scholars to discuss the ethical issues surrounding the use of CRISPR technology. This was the second in a series of three workshops on CRISPR being organized by Drs. Jennifer Doudna and William Hurlbut with support from The Templeton Foundation.

AtlanticLIVE, Boston, MA, June 13, 2017 (invited panelist)

Ting joined Dr. Robert Green (Harvard Medical School) and Dr. Joyce Tung (23andMe) for a panel discussion before a live television audience as part of the program on PULSE: On the Front Lines of Health Care. The panel, moderated by Sharon Begley of STAT News, addressed the “The Personal Genetics Revolution.”

The 4th ELSI Congress, The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine, Farmington, CT, June 5-7, 2017 (invited speaker)

Dana organized a workshop on education and engagement at the 4th ELSI Congress on “Genomics and Society: Expanding the ELSI Universe.” Dana, who spoke about pgEd’s efforts with teachers, Hollywood, policymakers, and faith communities, was accompanied by Charlie Wray (The Jackson Laboratory) and Maurice Godfrey (University of Nebraska) in a session that highlighted “Tools for bioethics engagement: New approaches and materials for the classroom and beyond.”

NIH SciEd conference, Washington, D.C., May 30 – June 2, 2017 (PI, poster)

Marnie attended the SciEd conference, which brings together educators funded by the Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) program to share findings and foster collaboration. She presented a poster on the first year of pgEd’s ARC (Building Awareness, Respect, and Confidence through Genetics) project and moderated a panel discussion on “Working with populations suspicious of science.”

Precision Medicine and Personal Genetics: Promoting Conversations, Boston, MA, May 25-26, 2017 (host)

pgEd partnered with the Minority Coalition for Precision Medicine to organize a meeting which brought together faith-based leaders, scientists, and community members for two days of frank and powerful discussions on genetics and precision medicine, faith, race, and diversity.

Future of Medicine Conference, Denver, CO, May 11-12, 2017 (invited speaker)

Marnie and Ting represented pgEd at Centura Health’s conference exploring the frontiers of health and medicine. Ting was a keynote speaker along with Harvard Professor and pgEd advisor, George Church, in a session on Future Applications of Gene Editing and the Potential Effects on Health Equity.

AtlanticLIVE, New York City, NY, April 26, 2017 (invited panelist)

Ting joined Dr. Paul Appelbaum and Dr. Arthur Caplan for a panel discussion before a live television audience as part of the program on Sequencing the Genome: Examining modern medicine. Moderated by Dr. James Hamblin of the Atlantic, the panel addressed the “Opportunities and Challenges Ahead.”

Visits to Montrose, Mitchell, Wagner, and Bon Homme High Schools, southeastern SD, April 26, 2017 (guests)

The pgEd team enjoyed a 350-mile roadtrip to meet with teachers and administrators of four South Dakota schools to lay the groundwork for our 2018 professional development in Sioux Falls in partnership with Liz McMillan of the Sanford Program for the Midwest Initiative in Science Exploration (PROMISE).

Community Experience on Personal Genetics, Harrisburg, SD, April 25, 2017 (invited guests)

pgEd was privileged to take part in a community conversation on personal genetics, led by high school students in Harrisburg, South Dakota. Attended by 110 students, community members, and educators, this first-of-its-kind community event was a great success, full of energetic conversations across generations.

Science by the Pint, Cambridge Science Festival, Somerville, MA, April 20, 2017 (invited panelist)

Johnny participated in “A Panel Discussion on Genetic Engineering” along with bioethicist George Annas and scientists George Church and Wilson Wong. This event, hosted by Aeronaut Brewing Company, was part of the 2017 Cambridge Science Festival.

Association of Health Care Journalists conference, Orlando, FL, April 20, 2017 (invited panelist)

Ting spoke on a panel about genome editing at the Association of Health Care Journalists conference in Orlando, Florida. This panel, sponsored by The Hastings Center, also featured Josephine Johnston of The Hastings Center and was moderated by Dina Fine Maron of Scientific American.

Professional development on Genetics and Social Justice, Boston, MA, April 19, 2017 (organizer)

Lauren organized a one-day professional development workshop which drew teachers from Boston, Cambridge, and beyond to discuss advances in personal genetics, the American Eugenics Movement, and our newest lesson on genome editing.

Smithsonian Institute traveling exhibition, Bangor Public Library, Bangor, ME, April 13, 2017 (invited speaker)

Dana was a featured speaker at the programming around the Smithsonian’s traveling exhibition on “Exploring Human Origins: What Does It Mean To Be Human?” at the Bangor Library. She met with librarians and gave a talk on genome editing, de-extinction, and the implications for human identity.

Professional development on Genetics and Social Justice, Boston, MA, March 31, 2017 (organizer)

Lauren organized a one-day professional development workshop, our first in which social studies teachers outnumbered the biology teachers. Sessions explored the emerging field of personal genetics, the history of the American Eugenics Movement, and our newest lesson on genome editing.

NHGRI Genomic Literacy meeting, Bethesda, MD, March 13-14, 2017 (invited participant)

Marnie represented pgEd at this meeting of 120 leaders, convened by the National Human Genome Research Institute, to discuss strategies for increasing genomic literacy. Marnie contributed to lively conversations on how to effectively engage teachers and classrooms, communities, and health care professionals.

The Future of Gene Editing, Science and Education Policy Association, Rockefeller University, New York, NY, January 26, 2017 (invited panelist)

Marnie participated in a multi-disciplinary panel discussion on CRISPR with Jamie Metzl (Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council), Roberto Barbero (Former Assistant Director on Biological Innovation, White House Office of Science & Technology Policy), and Matthew Liao (Director, Center for Bioethics, New York University). The discussion looked 5, 10, and 20 years into the future, considering potential applications of CRISPR, policy questions, long-term societal implications, and the importance of engaging the public. The audience was a lively mix of individuals from New York’s academic, industry, and policy communities with seemingly endless questions and comments.

NHIT Collaborative for the Underserved Annual Collaborative Conference, Oxon Hill, MD, December 14, 2016 (invited panelist)

Johnny represented pgEd at the third annual conference of the National Health IT Collaborative for the Underserved (NHIT), “The Perfect Storm: Genomics, Precision Medicine, and Health IT Innovation – Opportunities in Underserved Communities.” The conference convened leaders in science, ethics, business, law, medicine and policy to explore the opportunities that may be created by advances in precision medicine and genomics to address health disparity, community empowerment and economic development in underserved communities. Johnny spoke on the panel “ELSI and the Business of Genomics.”

Professional development on Genetics and Social Justice, Boston, MA, December 7, 2016 (organizer)

Lauren organized a one-day professional development workshop which drew seven teachers from Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire. Sessions explored the emerging field of personal genetics, advances in reproductive technology, the history of the American Eugenics Movement, and strategies for handling sensitive topics in the classroom.

Visit to the Boston Latin Academy, Boston, MA, December 2, 2016 (guest observer)

Fabienne Mondesir, the newest member of pgEd’s Teacher Advisory Council, kindly permitted Lauren and Ting to spend the day observing classes at this Boston public high school. They watched Fabienne lead her students through laboratory demonstrations of the relationship between solutes and solvents. They also joined a class led by Mr. Matheiu on the sociology of race and racism.

Cambridge Roundtable on the Intersection of Science and Theology, Cambridge, MA, December 1, 2016 (invited presenter)

Ting led a discussion with the Cambridge Roundtable, which has been meeting regularly this year to tackle “How science and theology work together to address the ethics of human genetic engineering.” This roundtable assembled expertise in theology, history, governance, stem cell biology, physics, law, music, and genetics.

Visit to Brockton High School, Brockton, MA, November 30, 2016 (guest speaker)

Marnie met with students and teachers at our partner school in Brockton, where pgEd will be hosting a summer 2017 professional development workshop. She led four workshops with 11th and 12th grade students in Joyce Voorhis’ and Sean Durrigan’s bioethics classes  and 9th grade students in Ethel Savas’ and Melissa Kelly’s biology classes.

MilliporeSigma Leadership Forum, Cambridge, MA, November 16, 2016 (invited speaker)

Marnie and Ting spoke with ~24 top executives from MilliporeSigma, sharing pgEd’s experiences and strategies for engaging the public. This stirred an energetic discussion about the importance of building trust and the role that companies can play.

Massachusetts Association of Science Teachers Annual Conference, Boxborough, MA, November 4, 2016 (presenter)

Lauren and Johnny met with science teachers from across Massachusetts, leading one workshop on pgEd’s introductory lesson and another on our lesson on reproductive genetic technologies. This was followed by a Share-a-Thon where pgEd met with teachers one-on-one and shared resources and lesson plans, including new materials on gene editing.

Roundtable Discussion on Population Health Leadership, Denver CO, November 2, 2016 (invited presenter)

Ting represented pgEd at this roundtable discussion organized by James Corbett of Centura Health. The event tackled the challenges of achieving comprehensive health care for all communities, inspiring all of the ~ two dozen participants to work more diligently and cooperatively toward a more effective health care system.

American Society of Human Genetics Annual meeting, Vancouver, Canada, October 19, 2016 (organizer/speaker, invited session)

Marnie chaired and Ting spoke at an invited session on “Education in Action: Meeting the Challenges of 21st Century Genetics,” which drew over 150 attendees to discuss parallel efforts for raising awareness, building trust, and increasing genomic literacy.

American Society of Human Genetics annual high school workshop, Vancouver, Canada, October 18, 2016 (invited presenter)

This was pgEd’s third year presenting at this workshop, which travels each year with the ASHG scientific conference. Marnie led three workshops for ~80 Vancouver-area high school students and teachers, who discussed and debated ethical questions at the intersection of genetics and athletics.

Advocating for Science Symposium, Future of Research, MIT, Cambridge, MA, September 16, 2016 (panelist)

Marnie brought pgEd’s experiences and perspectives on raising awareness to a panel discussion for junior scientists on shaping the future of the scientific research enterprise. She highlighted the effectiveness of pgEd’s neutral approach for sparking interest and building trust.

Minority Coalition for Precision Medicine Summit, Health Ministries Network, Baltimore, MD, September 7-8, 2016 (keynote speaker)

The Health Ministries Network convened a meeting of African American pastors and ministers with the goal of mobilizing the faith community to engage congregations on the topic of precision medicine.Ting, Marnie, and Johnny traveled to Baltimore, along with geneticist George Church (also a pgEd Advisor), Pastors Nathan Barczi and Chad Baldanza (Christ the King Church of Cambridge and Jamaica Plain/Roxbury, respectively), and Ann Merchant (The Science & Entertainment Exchange), for this two-day meeting, which was filled with frank discussion and ended with a sense that much could be accomplished by working together.

Writers Retreat, The Science & Entertainment Exchange, National Academy of Sciences, Carefree, AZ, August 5-7, 2016 (invited speaker)

The Science and Entertainment Exchange brought together ~ 15 writers of television and film and an equal number of scientists and researchers to brainstorm world issues, storylines, and shared goals from morning until late into the night. As always happens under the guiding influence of Ann Merchant and Rick Loverd of the Exchange, much common ground was found between the fields and professions represented.

Summer Institute for High School Teachers, Boston, MA, July 19-21, 2016 (organizer)

pgEd hosted its fifth summer institute, which drew 50 educators from science, health, social studies, and art to explore the intersection of genetics and social justice. This workshop, funded by the NIH SEPA program, included sessions on precision medicine, consumer genetics, reproductive genetics, gene editing, the American Eugenics movement, the microbiome, the law and DNA, research ethics, and the intersection of genetics and space. This energetic group of teachers from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Rhode Island, and South Dakota collectively serve ~6,800 students annually.

2016 Summer Institute Photo

2016 Summer Institute for teachers, Boston, MA

Teaching the Genome Generation Course for High School Teachers, The Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, ME, July 11-15, 2016 (course faculty)

For the second year, Dana led the ethics strand of a week-long integrated professional development course on molecular genetics, bioinformatics, and bioethics in collaboration with The Jackson Laboratory. This course, funded by the NIH SEPA program, was attended by 17 teachers from in and around Maine.

Festival of Genomics – Boston, MA, June 28-29, 2016 (exhibitor)

Johnny, Marnie and Trisha brought a spotlight on engaging the public to the Festival, attended primarily by scientists and healthcare professionals, by exhibiting pgEd resources at a booth donated by Frontline Genomics. In addition, Ting chaired a session on Space Genetics, and Marnie tried out her theatrical skills as an actor in “The Drama of DNA.”

Teaching the Genome Generation Course for High School Teachers, The Jackson Laboratory, Farmington, CT, June 27 – July 1, 2016 (course faculty)

For the second year, Dana led the ethics strand of a week-long integrated professional development course on molecular genetics, bioinformatics, and bioethics in collaboration with The Jackson Laboratory. This course, funded by the NIH SEPA program, was attended by 15 teachers from in and around Connecticut.

Christ the King Church, Cambridge, MA, June 26, 2016 (invited speaker)

Ting joined Pastor Nathan Barczi and his congregation at their church on this Sunday morning to explore the cutting edge of genetic technologies – the questions and issues of how, why, when, and where-are-we going? Together, the gathering explored the possibility of working together to achieve comprehensive conversation and awareness throughout all communities. There was much enthusiasm for the goals and the potential for synergy.

Cornerstones of Science Library Partner Summit, Portsmouth, NH, June 6, 2016 (science partner/panelist)

The Cornerstones of Science brought together library and science partners from their Empowering Libraries Project to develop pathways for libraries to serve as community science centers. Marnie participated in a panel discussion and met one-on-one with library partners from six communities in Massachusetts and Maine to strategize about opportunities for libraries to disseminate information and increase conversation about genetics.

pgEd Industry Forum for Forging Community Partnerships, Boston, MA, May 19-20, 2016 (organizer)

pgEd convened over 40 representatives from healthcare, education, business, government, film and television, and communities of faith to explore strategies for tackling the gap in awareness and conversation about personal genetics between well-served and underserved communities. This one-of-a-kind meeting included leadership from some of the top companies in genetics, including 23andMe, Complete Genomics, DuPont, Editas Medicine, Illumina, Natera, Seven Bridges Genomics, and Veritas Genetics. Attendees were challenged to devise strategies that could achieve nation-wide awareness and conversations about genetic technologies within five years.

NIH SciEd conference for the Science Education Partnership Award program – Rockville, MD, May 9-12, 2016 (PI, poster)

Marnie attended the SciEd conference as the principle investigator on a five-year SEPA grant to pgEd to support a new school-based project, ARC (Building Awareness, Respect, and Confidence through Genetics). Dana and Marnie are also collaborating with The Jackson Laboratory on their SEPA project to provide the ethics strand of a professional development course for high school teachers, called Teaching the Genome Generation.

Roundtable discussion, NASA HQ, Washington, D.C., May 2, 2016 (invited speaker)

NASA Administrator, Charles Bolden, and Deputy Administrator, Dava Newman, invited Ting, Marnie, and George Church (pgEd Advisor) for a roundtable with NASA scientists on the physiological impacts of spaceflight, plans for NASA’s Journey to Mars, and the potential contributions of genetics to protect the health of astronauts.

Capitol Hill briefings

Personal Genetics: Scientific Advances and Accelerating Public Awareness, hosted by Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, May 13, 2014 (organizer)

Advancing a new initiative to engage our nation’s lawmakers, pgEd held a Congressional briefing on developments in the fields of genetics, personalized medicine, and genetic engineering as well as successful strategies for engaging the public. Speakers included Dana, Marnie, and Ting from pgEd and pgEd Advisor, George Church. The 90-minute program drew ~65 attendees, and several stayed 30-minutes or more for one-on-one conversations. As a result, pgEd was invited to organize a series of briefings to delve more deeply into the intersection of genetics and emerging policy questions.

Advances in Personal Genetics and GINA: Expanding Options and Protecting Civil Rights, hosted by Congresswoman Louise Slaughter and Senator Elizabeth Warren, October 3, 2014 (organizer) 

The briefing began with an update on recent advances in genetic technologies and then featured the latest research from the front lines of the Ebola outbreak. It then focused on the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), wherein a panel of experts looked ahead to new challenges arising from developments in technology, medicine, genetics, neuroscience, and beyond

Personal Genetics and Law Enforcement: Improving Public Safety, Ensuring Justice, and Balancing Civil Rights, hosted by Congresswoman Louise Slaughter and Senator Elizabeth Warren, March 19, 2015 (organizer)

pgEd’s third briefing began by highlighting research that illustrates how scientists are utilizing cutting-edge tools that probe the hidden world of microbes to improve health and increase public safety. Then, a panel of experts addressed the uses of DNA in the criminal justice system and emerging policy questions surrounding the acquisition, interpretation, and storage of DNA samples. Congresswoman Louise Slaughter was in attendance and lent her remarks to the discussions.

Gene Editing and Frontiers in Genetic Technologies:  Innovations, Impacts, and Implications, hosted by Congresswoman Louise Slaughter and Senator Elizabeth Warren, November 17, 2015 (organizer)

Three pioneering scientists who are all leaders in their fields – Drs. Diana Bianchi, Jennifer Doudna and George Church – spoke about technologies ranging from non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT), CRISPR gene editing, to DNA nanotechnology. The standing-room only event was attended by over 150 staffers from Congressional offices, various government departments and agencies, academic and professional societies, and other members of the public.

Enduring the Extremes: Space Travel, Genetics, and Astronaut Health, hosted by Congresswoman Louise Slaughter and Senator Elizabeth Warren, May 3, 2016 (organizer)

This program left Earth’s orbit to focus on genetics and space travel, looking at the health effects of spaceflight, potential contributions of genetics to protect the health of astronauts, and the ethical considerations. The standing-room only event was attended by almost 200 staffers from Congressional offices, various government departments and agencies, academic and professional societies, and members of the public.

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Minority Coalition for Precision Medicine Summit, Baltimore, MD

 
Professional development workshop (Boston, MA)

Professional development workshop, Boston, MA

 
AtlanticLIVE

AtlanticLIVE, New York City, NY

 
Future of Science panel (Cambridge, MA)

Future of Science panel, Cambridge, MA

 
Industry Forum for Forging Community Partnerships, Boston, MA

Industry Forum for Forging Community Partnerships, Boston, MA

 

Congressional briefing, Washington, D.C.

 
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Harrisburg High School, Harrisburg, SD

 

Teacher workshop, Boston, MA

 
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Sloan jury, Sundance Film Festival, Sundance, UT

 
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Sanford Research, Sioux Falls, SD

 
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White House OSTP, Washington, D.C.

 
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Galileo High School, San Francisco, CA

 
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Community Experience on Personal Genetics, Harrisburg, SD

 
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Industry Forum for Forging Community Partnerships, Boston, MA

 
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Summer institute for teachers, Boston, MA

 
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Congressional briefing, Washington, D.C.

 
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Capital City Public Charter School, Washington, D.C.

 
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Teacher workshop, Boston, MA

 
Panel discussion on gene editing (New York City, NY)

Panel discussion on gene editing, New York, NY

 
ASHG High School workshop (San Diego, CA)

ASHG High School workshop, San Diego, CA

 

Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

 
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Industry Forum for Forging Community Partnerships, Boston, MA

 
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Science cafe, Bar Harbor, ME

 

Broad Institute, Cambridge, MA