Gene Editors of the Future at a glance
A one of its kind programme created for students to explore aspirations in CRISPR the Nobel prize in Chemistry winning technology (2020) through Quintin Hogg Trust - Gene Editors of the Future Programme. Genome engineering lab of School of Life Sciences (www.westmingenlab.uk) worked on this for the structure of the programme since 2018 aiming at both Masters and UG students in Life Sciences. CRISPR technology is set to be the biggest scientific breakthrough of the decade (also won the first ever all-women Nobel Prize in 119 years of the award's history) allows us to rewrite the genetic content precisely in living cells. CRISPR/Cas9 technology offers promising strategies for treatment and cure of inherited diseases and certain cancers. Applications of the CRISPR toolbox is endless including, biosensing and diagnosis of infections. And most importantly, CRISPR technology is one of the most sought-after skills in biomedical research landscape today. The programme was delivered in three phases. Students were divided in to groups depending on the research interests in to 3 discovery routes 1) disease models, 2) drug discovery and, 3) diagnostics. Faced with an existential crisis of a scale not seen in living memory, we deployed a revised strategy to run the programme efficiently and pleased with the fantastic outcomes. Through the gene editors live-streamed lab sessions we stepped in supported the larger student community not enrolled on the programme which increases the success of the programme many folds (140 students actively participated in the programme which was originally planned for 50 students). With more exciting sessions every fort night the programme had engaged students efficiently and most importantly encouraged student aspirations during these testing times. In addition to sharing our in-house expertise, we also invited global leaders in genome engineering services to share their experiences. The programme included matching students to various opportunities within the college, rather than specifically set rolesincluding student research group leaders, conference conveners, workshops coproducers etc.
“My experience of being a part of this community was utterly eye-opening and enthralling. It had given me what I expected from this programme and more. I had joined a body of passionate people all with similar interests, striving for a common thing and that was very inspiring, and I am grateful to be part of that. Through this training I was able to widen my thoughts and expand on what I know about gene editing. It was absolutely captivating to see everyone working together during the online lab sessions, I learnt so much from the teachers and the students. Having people from all over the world talking to us about their studies and what they're working on had opened so many closed doors in my mind and made me look at my degree and future in a different perspective. Overall, this is an experience I will never forget, and I look forward to engaging with this gene editing community in the future.”- Biomedical Sciences Level 5 student