UC Berkeley genomics institute offers summer CRISPR classes for students, public

Sam Albillo/Staff

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Undergraduate students and members of the public have more opportunities to learn about the revolutionary genetic modification technology CRISPR this summer through four one-unit courses offered by the campus Innovative Genomics Institute, or IGI.

IGI and UC Berkeley Extension collaborated this summer to offer these courses, including a three-week lecture and lab series designed for undergraduate students and a four-week lecture series and three-week lab series for the public. The courses are an effort by IGI to reach more people with its research, according to IGI’s website.

According to Kevin Doxzen, IGI’s science communications specialist, the courses were designed to teach students how to use CRISPR across a range of disciplines. He added that this year is the first year the UC Berkeley Extension course has been offered. The undergraduate courses were first introduced to campus in 2018.

“CRISPR technology has changed the way we do science and biomedical research,” said Dirk Hockemeyer, an assistant professor in the department of molecular and cell biology, in an email. “I am excited to train and educate the next generation of scientist working in this field.”

Students who enroll in the classes will have the opportunity to learn about genome editing, CRISPR-Cas9 research and bioethics, among other topics. According to Doxzen, students will also have the opportunity to learn from local experts through guest lectures. This year, the lab series is not mandatory for students taking the class, which IGI says will lead to an increase in seats available, allowing more students who want to take the lecture series to do so.

The curriculum of the lab series includes hands-on instruction on using CRISPR-Cas9 and demonstrations of CRISPR editing with test tubes and living organisms.

“Cal is a hotbed of CRISPR research, and the Bay Area is a world leader in advancing CRISPR technologies,” said course organizer Ross Wilson in an email. “We hope this class will serve as a crash course in all things CRISPR, from its microbial origins to its use in research to its applications in biomedicine and agriculture.”

As of press time, three out of four of the courses have open seats, with the undergraduate lab series as the exception. The classes will start July 29 for undergraduate students and July 24 for the UC Berkeley Extension classes.

Contact Kate Finman at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @KateFinman_DC.