Exploring this Job
The American Society of Human Genetics offers several great ways to explore genetics, including career resources, a DNA Day Essay Contest, and a High School Workshop at its annual meeting. Visit https://www.ashg.org/discover-genetics-old/k-12-education for more information.
Check out the following web resources for more information on genetics and CRISPR:
- Introduction to Genomics: https://www.genome.gov/About-Genomics/Introduction-to-Genomics
- Discover Genetics: https://www.ashg.org/discover-genetics
- CRISPR Made Simple: https://innovativegenomics.org/crispr-made-simple/
- CRISPR Made Simple Glossary: https://innovativegenomics.org/crispr-made-simple/glossary/
Other ways to learn more about CRISPR and education and careers in the field include talking with your science teacher, participating in information interviews with CRISPR scientists, reading about the field, trying your hand at basic genetics experiments, and participating in summer exploration programs in genetics at colleges and universities.
The discovery of the CRISPR genome engineering tool has allowed scientists and engineers to edit genes faster, less expensively, and more efficiently than other existing genome editing methods to improve health outcomes, increase plant health and productivity, and develop better biofuels.
In the medical field, scientists are conducting clinical trials to determine if CRISPR can be used to treat diseases and conditions such as sickle-cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, Alzheimer’s disease, hereditary blindness, and cancer. Others have developed ways in which CRISPR can be utilized as a diagnostic tool to detect infectious and non-infectious diseases using a person’s blood, saliva, or urine. Some scientists are using CRISPR to develop new antibiotics and antivirals.
In agriculture and food production, scientists have used CRISPR to genetically modify foods to increase their shelf life, improve their nutritional value and taste, and even make them resistant to pests. For example, a researcher at Penn State University used CRISPR to remove a tiny piece of DNA from one particular gene in a white button mushroom. This action reduced the mushroom’s production of an enzyme that causes the mushroom to brown and spoil and increased the shelf-life of the mushrooms. Scientists at the Innovative Genomics Institute and the University of Berkeley are working with the candymaker Mars, Inc. to use CRISPR to create disease-resistant cacao plants, which will ensure that there will be more plants to use in chocolate production.
In the field of bioenergy, scientists are experimenting with using CRISPR technology on algae and bacteria to develop new types of biofuels. Recently, ExxonMobil and Synthetic Genomics announced that their use of CRISPR on algae could lead to the generation of 10,000 barrels of algae biofuel per day by 2025.