CRISPR/ Cas9 as a breakthrough technology
Tanvi Dixit, Biotechnology
Creating an online course episode for 10-12 graders regarding CRISPR/Cas9 genetic technology.
I had undertaken a remote research project for about 4 weeks, under the guidance of Dr. Mara Huber. The project was on “CRISPR/ Cas9 Technology as a breakthrough technology in gene editing”. I had never heard of this topic throughout my schooling or even in my first year of university. So, I had to first start by looking up at what CRISPR/ Cas9 technology was on Google. After getting an idea on that, as part of my research, I decided to enroll in a free online course on “Introduction to CRISPR/ Cas9 Technology”. It had all the information that was needed for my research project. The idea that I wanted to address through my project was the utilization of CRISPR/ Cas9 technology to reduce antibiotic resistance, i.e., to hamper the ability of bacteria, to continue infecting a host cell by defeating drugs designed to destroy them. Moreover, antibiotic resistance is a significant crisis that poses a threat to human health worldwide. Thus, there is a possibility that CRISPR/ Cas9 technology could help to mitigate the spread of diseases to some extent. For example, using CRISPR/ Cas9 technology, a bacterial genome could be modified in such a way, so that it will not be able to combat any drug effect. Then, the bacteria (in the form of an antibiotic), could be inserted into a patient’s body killing the bacterial infection. My project outcome was creating a course episode on my research project on the platform called ‘Belouga’ for grade 10-12 students. ELN and Belouga have been good partners for many years, and because of this it was easy to connect with a faculty member from Belouga. The broader impact of this project was to think of a treatment for diseases or any genetic defects through gene editing using CRISPR/ Cas9 technology. This could be done in the form of vaccines or tissue culture. My biggest takeaway from this project was that I realized my potentials and felt a sense of achievement. Working through the digital badge activities was a fun learning experience. It was fun to write responses, and to explore my interests. It was like a checklist of the whole process. I think other students should think of engaging in research projects because that’s a good way to discover interests, think critically, be creative, and it would help students to apply for jobs, and thus big companies can recognize such students.