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ChristianaCare Gene Editing Institute and Carolina to launch CRISPR education kits

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The toolkit teaches students to cut DNA at specific locations and delete sections or replace them with alternate sequences. | PHOTO COURTESY OF CHRISTIANA GENE EDITING INSTITUTE

CRISPR in a Box has been used by more than 750 students in classrooms and laboratories around the country, providing teachers with a classroom resource for students to try their own hands at being gene editing scientists. The toolkit teaches students how to use CRISPR as a pair of “molecular scissors” to cut DNA at specific locations and delete sections or replace them with alternate sequences. The kit was voted a Best of STEM 2023 Awards Finalist by the National Science Teaching Association, MCH Strategic Data, and the National Association of Biology Teachers.

“Carolina is proud to partner with the Gene Editing Institute to bring cutting-edge biotechnology into the hands of students,” Mark Meszaros, vice-president, Core Product Management and Innovation, at Carolina Biological, said “Carolina shares the Gene Editing Institute’s mission to prepare the next generation of scientists by providing authentic hands-on learning experiences that challenge students—and not just providing simulated labs or abridged transformations. We are excited to announce a new laboratory activity, CRISPR in a Box, that uses a unique cell-free or in vitro system that will teach each step of this ground-breaking CRISPR technology with confidence. Carolina is an advocate for hands-on experiences that challenge students and expose them to real-world learning. Together with the Gene Editing Institute, we want to prepare students for the future of work and look forward to new development opportunities in the rapidly advancing field of biotechnology.”

The new version of CRISPR in a Box, which will be featured at Carolina’s booth at the National Science Teaching Association national conference in Denver, Colorado, March 20-23, 2024, has been enhanced with an improved teacher guide and is available to schools for purchase through Carolina. Carolina will continue to refine and update the product in years to come so that it continues to represent the state-of-the-science in gene editing, with leading-edge lab activities that engage and inspire students to potentially explore career opportunities in the growing field of gene editing.

“One of our goals at the Gene Editing Institute is to empower, inspire and engage the next generation of scientists—and to ensure that this includes young people from all socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds,” Amanda Hewes, education program manager who helped develop the original kit, said. “CRISPR in a Box gives students the same instruments that scientists all over the world use. They get a chance to try this in a lab setting. Our outreach in bringing students into our lab to work alongside scientists brings out their passion and interest and truly inspires them.”

That outreach includes mentoring field trips that are available for high school students to visit the Gene Editing Institute’s Learning Lab. In this immersive experience, teachers can bring students to a fully stocked laboratory to perform a half-day gene editing experiment with scientists from the lab. Students also gain the opportunity to learn directly from experts in the field about their own experiences and careers in the science of gene editing.

“We are happy to partner with Carolina to accelerate access to a new version of our CRISPR in a Box and to help build the next generation of gene editing scientists,” Eric Kmiec, Ph.D., executive director and chief scientific officer of the Gene Editing Institute, said. “Our aim is for all people to have trust in the medical system and to have equal access to medical breakthroughs. It is very important for students, especially from underrepresented communities, to try our technology with their own hands and understand how it works and that it is safe. The future of gene editing is bright and the possibilities are endless if we encourage diversity and inspire the right people to join our field of science.”

 

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