CRISPR: The Brave New World of Genome Editing
The development in 2012 of CRISPR/Cas9 technology, which can disrupt, modify, or enhance the sequence and expression of genes, has launched a scientific revolution. Its relative simplicity has allowed it to spread like wildfire, from the study of model organisms like Drosophila melanogaster and mice to obscure species, like the octopus or sea anemone. There has been tremendous interest in using CRISPR/Cas9 in Homo sapiens to reverse the effects of mutations such as those that underlie sickle cell anemia and Huntington’s disease, despite the possibility of “off target” genome modifications that could cause unanticipated harm. Moreover, the prospect of clinical applications raises the difficult challenge of drawing the line between therapy to prevent or cure disease and enhancement to improve upon a human trait. But the greatest ethical scrutiny has been directed toward the use of CRISPR/Cas9 in eggs, sperm, or early embryos, where modifications would be passed onto future generations. This Master Class will explore how this technology works and what its ramifications are for the human race.
Shirley Tilghman was the 19th President of Princeton University and was the first woman to hold the position and the second female president in the Ivy League. An exceptional teacher and a world-renowned scholar and leader in the field of molecular biology, she served on the Princeton faculty for 15 years before being named president. She has returned to the Princeton faculty as a professor of molecular biology. Tilghman is a member of the American Philosophical Society, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Institute of Medicine and the Royal Society of London. She serves as a Trustee of The Jackson Laboratory and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.