“You have seen the future, and it is gene editing,” said Janice E. Nevin, Christiana Care CEO as she congratulated biomedical students and faculty at Delaware Technical Community College for pioneering what may be the first-ever community college curriculum to include the CRISPR gene editing technology.
With a $1 million National Science Foundation grant, Christiana Care’s Gene Editing Institute and Delaware Technical Community College developed a curriculum to include gene editing into two courses in its biological sciences program at its Stanton, campus.
As part of the grant, Del Tech will also hold a series of workshops over the next several years to teach gene-editing techniques to community college faculty across the U.S. and help them develop their own curriculum.
Gene editing is a way of making specific changes to the DNA of a cell or organism. An enzyme cuts the DNA at a specific sequence, and when this is repaired by the cell a change or “edit” is made to the sequence.
“This innovative curriculum combines the unique talents of Christiana Care’s world-renowned gene editing team with the teaching expertise of our instructors at Delaware Tech,” said Delaware Tech President Mark T. Brainard, J.D. “This program will provide a boost to biomedical research and enhance the workforce in Delaware and elsewhere.”
“This partnership is leading the nation in making the promise of gene editing a reality and cultivating a workforce with the special skills that will be vital in this new frontier of bioscience,” said Nevin. “California may have its Silicon Valley, but here in Delaware we have our own Innovation Corridor – home to some of the giants of engineering, manufacturing, industry, education and healthcare.”
“The curriculum can be expanded to accommodate any level of instruction, and that’s the beauty of it,” said Eric Kmiec, Ph.D., director of the Gene Editing Institute at Christiana Care. “Students are now using the second iteration of a gene-editing laboratory exercise that we developed – the same reaction that we still use on in our own research laboratory. It’s the basis for the new ‘gene editing on a chip technology,’ a cancer diagnostic tool that’s already been commercialized. It is very exciting that students carrying out this unique reaction in an educational format can see a direct application into the real world of cancer research.”
“I am thrilled and grateful to be part of a pioneering program,” said Sheldon Wilson, a student enrolled in the spring genetics class. “The gene editing techniques I have learned in this course will transfer very well to a four-year university.”
The Gene Editing Institute is the only research institute of its kind in the nation based within a community health care system, a release stated.
The Gene Editing Institute is a leader in gene editing biomedical research in cancer and other inherited diseases, and the only one working in the same space with oncologists, genetic counselors and patients.