Personal Genetics Education Project

Gene editing/CRISPR, mammoths, and mosquitoes in the news

The ability to alter DNA is evolving rapidly, with the introduction and rapid adoption of a technique referred to as CRISPR.  What is CRISPR? Google will help you find some fascinating technical explanations, but we appreciate the description by writer Carl Zimmer in the New York Times, “Crispr is a system of molecules that allows scientists to alter DNA with exquisite precision. Researchers design the molecules so they attach to DNA at a specific location. They then slice out the DNA there — whether an entire gene or a snippet of one — and then prompt a cell to replace it with a new segment designed by the scientists.” (A Call To Fight Malaria One Mosquito at a Time, July 17, 2014).

The CRISPR approach has been successfully used in repairing a genetic mutation in an adult mouse with a liver disorder, and to create primates with altered DNA as well.  The idea behind de-extinction – bringing back an extinct species such as the Woolly Mammoth – continues to gain steam with recent technical advances with that particular animal thanks to CRISPR.

None of this is without controversy – and recently a group of researchers and bioethicists, including a number of the scientists pioneering the technique – have called for caution and highlighted the need for public consultation and dialog.

A Prudent Path Forward for Genomic Engineering and Germline Gene Modification, Science

Germline Editing: Time for Discussion, Nature

Looking for more resources for students? pgEd created this brief handout for a recent teachers conference, “Genetic Engineering Resources – Maine Science Teacher Association“, which you might find useful to share with your classes.

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In the News

Personal Genetics Education Project - pgEd.org Personal Genetics Education Project - pgEd.org shared National Institutes of Health (NIH)'s Becoming a Scientist with National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Dr. Francis Collins.
Personal Genetics Education Project - pgEd.org

An event that our teacher friends may find useful: NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins will be hosting a Facebook Live event on Monday, Dec 10th from 3:15-45 pm ET, where he will take questions from middle school students from across the US. You are invited to livestream this event to your classroom and submit your students' questions in the event feed's comments section!

National Institutes of Health (NIH)
How can you start a career in STEM? Join NIH Director & geneticist Dr. Francis Collins on December 10, 2018 at 3:15 pm ET for a conversation featuring Johnson Creek Middle School on becoming a scientist. Dr. Collins will be taking questions from middle school students from across the U.S.!
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