AUG 21, 2014 06:45 AM PDT

Development and Applications of CRISPR-Cas9 for Genome Editing

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  • Core Faculty Member, The Broad Institute of MIT/Harvard, Investigator, McGovern Institute for Brain Research, W.M. Keck Career Development Professor of Biomedical Engineering Assistant Profes
      Feng Zhang is a Core Member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and the W. M. Keck Career Development Professor of Biomedical Engineering at MIT. As a graduate student at Stanford University, Zhang worked with advisor Karl Deisseroth to invent a set of technologies for dissecting the functional organization of brain circuits. His lab works on developing and applying disruptive technologies including optogenetics and genome engineering (TALEs and CRISPR) to understand nervous system function and disease. Zhang's long-term goal is to develop novel therapeutic strategies for disease treatment. He obtained a bachelor's degree from Harvard University and a PhD in chemistry and bioengineering from Stanford University. Before joining the MIT faculty he was a junior fellow of the Harvard University Society of Fellows. He is a recipient of the NSF's Alan T. Waterman Award, Perl/UNC Prize in Neuroscience, the NIH Director's Pioneer award, and awards from the Searle Scholars Program, McKnight, Keck, and Damon Runyon foundations.


    The Cas9 endonuclease from the microbial adaptive immune system CRISPR can be easily programmed to bind or cleave specific DNA sequence using a short RNA guide. Cas9 is enabling the generation of more realistic disease models and is broadening the number of genetically-tractable organisms that can be used to study a variety of biological processes. The Cas9 nuclease can also be modified to modulate transcription, alter epigenetic states, and track the dynamics of chromatin in living cells. In this presentation we will look at the latest developments and applications of the Cas9 nuclease for understanding the function of the mammalian genome. We will also look at the on-going challenges as well as future prospects of the technology.

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