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Pitt-Greensburg panel to unravel the mystery about CRISPR; Presentations plus a discussion of the ethical considerations

The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg will host three experts who will unravel the mystery about CRISPR by discussing the facts, the myths, and the ethical dilemmas surrounding this scientific breakthrough. The event, which is open to the public at no charge, is sponsored by and funded by the Academic Village.

Brooke McClendon, PhD, research assistant professor, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh; Brother Albert Gahr, OSB, PhD, an associate professor of biology at St. Vincent College; and Dr. Kyle Orwig, PhD, Genome Editing, Transgenic, and Virus (GETV) Core director at Magee Women’s Research Institute, will lead the audience through presentations on the CRISPR technology, advancing from an elementary school-age understanding to a more advanced level. Following the presentations will be a panel discussion on the ethics of CRISPR as well as a question-and-answer session with the audience.

CRISPR-Cas9, described as one of the most exciting breakthroughs in technology since the mapping of the human genome, is a simple yet powerful tool that allows scientists to make precision edits to any DNA, whether bacterial or human. CRISPR (pronounced “crisper”) stands for “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats” which are specialized regions of DNA. Cas-9 is an enzyme that cuts DNA acting as molecular scissors. CRISPR-Cas9 system provides scientists with a way to cut, edit, and then repair the DNA. CRISPR would allow scientists to accurately replace just a few faulty genes, making it possible to cure genetic disorders. On the controversial side is the potential use of CRISPR to create genetically engineered humans. (

“Where do we draw the line between treatment and enhancement? How is this system being regulated? I have been asked these types of questions and, therefore, I wanted to bring a variety of panelists, who use CRISPR, to campus to explain and explore this topic,” said Olivia Long, PhD, associate professor of biochemistry at Pitt-Greensburg, who created the event to both educate the audience on the science of CRISPR and explore the ethics of editing genomes.

This event will be held Tuesday, February 4, at 7 p.m. in the Mary Lou Campana Chapel and Lecture Center at Pitt-Greensburg (150 Finoli Drive, Greensburg, PA 15601).

Publication Date

Wednesday, January 29, 2020 - 13:45