New CRISPR technique skips over portions of genes that can cause disease

9/13/2018 10:52:48 AM Liz Ahlberg

In a new study in cells, University of Illinois researchers have adapted CRISPR gene-editing technology to cause the cell’s internal machinery to skip over a small portion of a gene when transcribing it into a template for protein building. This gives researchers a way not only to eliminate a mutated gene sequence, but to influence how the gene is expressed and regulated.

Such targeted editing could one day be useful for treating genetic diseases caused by mutations in the genome, such as Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy, Huntington’s disease or some cancers.

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1/27/2014 Mark Pajor, ECE ILLINOIS

A trio of ECE faculty have organized “Saturday Engineering for Everyone,” an open and free lecture series aimed at non-engineers of all backgrounds who are interested in learning about engineering. The inaugural series will be held on six Saturdays during the Spring 2014 semester, with the initial talk by Professor J. Gary Eden scheduled for February 1. Lectures are from 10:15-11:30 a.m. in 151 Everitt Lab, 1406 W. Green Street, with refreshments served starting at 10 a.m.

ECE professors P. Scott Carney, Andy Singer, and Naresh Shanbhag organized the series as a companion to Saturday Physics for Everyone, a similar series held each fall by the Physics Department. The Physics series has drawn sustained interest from members of the community: high school students, lifelong-learning retirees, and people of many backgrounds in between. Saturday Engineering aims to attract just as diverse of a population.

J. Gary  Eden
J. Gary Eden
The goal of the series is to make engineering accessible for those without a background in engineering, though engineering students are encouraged to attend. Carney said, “As organizers, our job is to handpick people we know can give a great public general talk.” One of those handpicked is Professor Eden, the Gilmore Family Endowed Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering.  “Gary is a master of taking very sophisticated ideas and making them accessible to anyone, and making it exciting for them.”

The organizers have encouraged the speakers to use demonstrations in order to increase engagement of the material, providing the attendees with the opportunity to see what’s happening firsthand. “They can get a really visceral understanding of the fundamental concepts.”

The series organizers are grateful to the ECE Department for making Saturday Engineering for Everyone possible. Carney said, “It’s been very encouraging to receive quite a lot of support from the department, and from two department heads,” referring to former department head, now college Dean Andreas Cangellaris and interim department head Bill Sanders. “And when I say the department, I also mean our speakers. In this first round, all of our speakers are either primarily appointed or jointly appointed with ECE. The support we’ve received from the department is going to make this a very successful series, and we’re excited about making this a regular part of the life of the community around campus.” Future incarnations of the series will include faculty from other disciplines across Engineering at Illinois.

Carney sees Saturday Engineering for Everyone as an important contributor to the university’s public outreach mission. “As a state university we have an obligation to provide outreach to the public, an opportunity for people to learn about what we do at the university, and to be part of the cutting-edge research going on in their own neighborhood.” By recruiting distinguished professors to present relevant topics in their field, the lecture series highlights the practical applications of the college’s work.

The first lecture on February 1 is titled “Going where no plasma has gone before: Plasmas and their impact on lighting, water disinfection, and medical therapeutics.” The other lectures cover the inner workings of smartphones and other electronic devices, nanotechnology, and underwater acoustics. Please see the full schedule for additional information