Georgette Heyrman: Genome editing with CRISPR: Just because we can, does it mean we should?

Elevator pitch

The CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing system is a technology used to make precise changes to the genome of any cell. The potential applications of CRISPR are limitless, but are they all ethical?

Abstract

Genome editing is a generic term for introducing specific changes to the DNA of a cell. An emerging technology to edit genomes is the CRISPR/Cas9 system (CRISPR), which stands for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats and CRISPR-associated protein 9. CRISPR is an RNA guided, protein mediated tool that introduces breaks in the genome at precise locations, allowing for the introduction of changes. While already widely used in basic research, CRISPR is an emerging tool in other areas such as medicine and agriculture. Although there are numerous ways to apply the technology, some believe CRISPR can be dangerous in the wrong hands. This talk will start by describing the process of CRISPR genome editing and will then lead into a discussion about the bioethics surrounding the use of CRISPR.

Bio

Dr. Georgette Heyrman is an Assistant Professor in the Human Biology and Chemistry departments at UW Green Bay where she teaches Human Genetics and Biochemistry. Her current research with colleagues and students at UW Green Bay seeks to understand the combined impact of the dietary molecules vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids on ovarian cancer cells. Dr. Heyrman completed her bachelor's degree in Biochemistry and a master's degree in Chemistry from the University of Oregon and her PhD in Biological Sciences from Northwestern University. After graduate school she was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Heyrman lives in Ashwaubenon with her husband and three young children.

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