SANTA FE, N.M., Feb. 12, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The New Mexico IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (NM-INBRE) and the National Center for Genome Resources (NCGR) announces the 13th annual New Mexico BioInformatics, Science and Technology (NMBIST) symposium on Genome Editing, March 15-16, 2018 at the Inn and Spa at Loretto in Santa Fe, NM.

New Mexico IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE)

If interested in sponsoring this event, contact nmbist@ncgr.org. For more details and to register, visit the event website at goo.gl/r56Yng.

Genome editing or gene editing refers to a combination of technologies that enable scientists to change an organism’s DeoxyriboNucleic Acid (DNA) or genetic code to abate genetic diseases and ideally cancer. Researchers are harnessing naturally occurring mechanisms within organisms and engineering them to perform DNA manipulation by adding, removing or altering certain regions of DNA.  Older techniques leveraged mechanisms that repair damaged DNA or cut specific sequences of DNA.  But it is the CRISPR-Cas9 (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Palindromic Repeats and CRISPR associated protein 9) technology that has brought significant improvements in cost, accuracy, speed, and overall efficacy. CRISPR tailors the mechanism in bacteria that enables the bacterial immune system to attack invading viruses. Applications for single-gene disorders such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease and hemophilia are in process while complex disorders like cancer are hopeful. Currently, most experiments are conducted on non-reproductive somatic cells in animal and other cell models. Applying to germline cells (which sperm and egg originate) has ethical concerns. The promise of eliminating a disease from a particular family, and ultimately from the human race forever appears utopian.  To some this is unacceptable because scientists are “playing God.” Others see a titanic risk of unforeseen negative effects on future generations, while others see this as a new era in medicine.

Speakers at 2018 NMBIST are all pioneers in the field. Dr. Parrington, Associate Professor in Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology at U. of Oxford, authored the book, “Redesigning life: How Genome Editing will transform the World”.  He touches upon the pros, cons and controversies of the topic. Dr. Miller, Founding Director – Center for Advanced Genome Editing at St. Judes Children’s Research Hospital (SJCRH) has worked on over a thousand CRISPR-Cas9 projects and will share insights including validation strategies. Dr. Dalhman, Assistant Professor in the Georgia Tech Biomedical Engineering Department, will share how he uses the Cas9 system for drug delivery. Dr. Moorthy, Research Fellow in Jennifer Mitchell’s lab at U. of Toronto, will discuss the utility of CRISPR technology in generating neural stem cells. Dr. Mateos-Moreno, a Research Scientist at Yale University will present on optimization of CRISPR technology using zebrafish. Dr. Mali, Assistant Professor in the Department of Bioengineering and rising star at UCSD, will discuss tools and therapeutic strategies via genome engineering.  Dr. Wiedenheft, Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Montana State University, will elucidate the mechanisms around CRISPR RNA-guided adaptive immunity in viruses. Dr. Staskawicz, Director of Agricultural Genomics at UC Berkeley, will discuss how genome editing will enable engineering of durable resistance in agronomic crops. Dr. Trujillo, Postdoctoral Assistant in Dr. Nevin Young’s lab at U. Minnesota, will discuss genome-editing methods to characterize unique peptide families in plants. Dr. Gurumurthy, Associate Professor of Developmental Neuroscience and Director of the Mouse Genome Engineering Core at U. Nebraska, is the co-developer of many CRISPR based techniques and will share his work.  Our industry speaker Dr. Ryan, Senior R&D Scientist at Agilent Research Labs, will discuss application-driven genome editing projects. Dr. Pattanayak MD/PhD, from Massachusetts General Hospital Pathology department and instructor in Pathology at Harvard Medical School, will discuss the “Safe Gene” program focused on eliminating off-target gene editing effects to produce safer therapeutics.

This year the student primer on genome editing will be conducted by Dr. Cripps, Professor, Principal Investigator, and Director of the Post-baccalaureate Research and Education Program (PREP) at the University of New Mexico.

New for this year is a career development seminar for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) students to provide guidance and career advice while in school or if graduated.  Dr. Cripps, described above will discuss careers in academia. Dr. Romero, Chief Operating Officer, VP for Research and Economic Development, and Professor of Physics from New Mexico Tech will discuss ideas for choosing to work in academia or industry. Dr. Miller, described above, will discuss her experiences in industry, academia and at a research hospital. Mr. Budge, Sr. Recruiter at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) will discuss his career path and what kind of students and skill-sets LANL is looking for.  Dr. Ryan, described above will discuss his non-linear career-path to biology.  All five of our distinguished speakers will close the session with a Q&A panel for the students to probe deeper questions.

The goal of the conference is to provide a world-class educational event to the southwest region at the intersection of bioscience, genomics and bioinformatics. The event also offers students the opportunity to present their research at a poster session (and receive free admission) and compete for a student speaking-slot in the plenary session (where winners receive free lodging).

Major funding is provided by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the NIH under grant number P20GM103451. Other benefactors include Synthego and LANL.

About NM-INBRE: Champions biomedical and community based research excellence in the state of New Mexico through the development of innovative, supportive and sustainable research environments for faculty and students, community engaging health initiatives, while building a network of lead scientists and educators at the state, regional and national level.  For more information, please visit www.nminbre.org.

About NCGR: NCGR is a nonprofit research institute that applies bioinformatics, software engineering and next-generation sequencing to solve the preeminent challenges of 21st century biology through collaborative research and services. To learn more, please visit www.ncgr.org.

National Center for Genome Resources (NCGR)

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