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Applications of CRISPR Technologies in Research and Industry

3/30/2017, 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM | German House New York

Applications of CRISPR Technologies in Research and Industry

• New Jersey Innovation Institute
• University of Cologne

On March 30, 2017, the University of Cologne New York Office, the New Jersey Innovation Institute, and the German Center for Research and Innovation (GCRI) New York hosted a panel discussion on "Applications of CRISPR Technologies in Research and Industry".

Few discoveries have attracted more attention in the area of molecular biology over the last three years than CRISPR-Cas9, a relatively new technology that is groundbreaking, controversial, and developing rapidly. Science Magazine featured CRISPR-Cas9 on its cover in 2015, calling it a "breakthrough," and MIT Technology Review called it the "biggest biotech discovery of the century." The technology makes gene editing simple, affordable, and precise. At present, scientists are exploring the potential of CRISPR-Cas9 to cure a host of human diseases. These tools are also being used to expedite crop and livestock breeding, engineer new antimicrobials and control disease-carrying insects. The recently discovered CRISPR-Cpf1 mechanism is expected to further accelerate innovations in research and technology.

Over 150 professionals attended the panel discussion on CRISPR which took place at the German House New York and was open to the public.

Following the introductions by Dr. Joann Halpern, Director of the German Center for Research and Innovation; Camille Sailer, President of the European American Chamber of Commerce New Jersey; and Dr. Benedikt Bosbach, Senior Scientist at the Oncology Target Discovery Program at Pfizer, the panelists addressed a number of different applications of the cutting-edge technology and discussed some of its challenges.

Dr. Branko Zevnik, Professor at the University of Cologne, Germany, and Head of the university's in vivo Research Facilities at the cluster of excellence Cellular Stress Responses in Aging-Associated Diseases (CECAD), introduced the CRISPR technology, the history, and working mechanism.

Dr. Ghassan Yehia, Scientific Director of the Genome Editing Core Facility at Rutgers University, explained how CRISPR technology is changing the science field dramatically and radically. He further demonstrated the applications of the CRISPR technology with a specific example from the New Jersey Medical School in Newark, where a team of scientists is studying cardiovascular diseases, specifically heart attacks, and touched on CRISPR applications in cancer research.

Dr. Paul Bernasconi, Director of Molecular Biology at BASF Plant Science, discussed applications of CRISPR technology in food production, using corn and other plants as examples.

Topics addressed during the Q&A after the presentations revolved around applications, further potential, and limitations of CRISPR in different fields. Other questions pertained to data requirements in computation, the impact of the innovation on small companies, conversations about CRISPR in veterinary schools, and promoting exchange in academic research that greatly contributed to the CRISPR revolution. Participants agreed on the need for an ongoing dialogue about ethical responsibility in the scientific community, in order to prevent misuse of the powerful technique, and the impact of the patent fight between the Emmanuelle Charpentier/Jennifer Doudna team and a team led by Feng Zhang that received almost more media coverage then the technology itself.

The program was funded in part by a grant from the Delegation of the European Union to the United States.

Credit: Dr. Eva Bosbach, University of Cologne New York Office

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  • Featured Speakers

    • Dr. Paul Bernasconi

      Director, Molecular Biology; Manager, RTP Plant Science Research Site, BASF

    • Prof. Dr. Branko Zevnik

      Head, in vivo Research Facility, CECAD Cologne

    • Dr. Ghassan Yehia

      Scientific Director, Genome Editing Core Facility, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

    • Dr. Benedikt Bosbach (Moderator)

      Researcher, Oncology Target Discovery Program, Pfizer