Explaining CRISPR

First, let’s get an understanding of what CRISPR is. In an extremely oversimplification, CRISPR is an editing tool where a genetic engineer can cut and edit out parts of DNA—usually unhealthy bits—and replace them with benign parts. It has the promise of curing hereditary diseases, cancer, and other genetic defects. For a better visualization, see this:

Now, check out how a biologist explains CRISPR to people of five different levels of knowledge: a seven-year old, a high-schooler, a college student, a grad student, and a post-doc expert on CRISPR:

What I find really interesting is that with the seven-year old, the biologist basically has to start with the basics of biology and already the kid’s mind is blown. But as we advance to higher levels of knowledge, the conversation slowly leaves biology and into philosophy, specifically the ethics behind CRISPR. With the high school student and the college student, the biology is briefly explained, and then they get into the ethics. With the grad student, they hardly discussed any biology and just went straight into the ethics. With the post-doc, they discussed a little biology and ethics, but I think they were discussing the philosophy of biology and science. I have to admit, I was a little lost with the post-doc, but the point is is that it’s remarkable that with this idea, they immediately went to the philosophical implications.

About shaunmiller

I am a Ph. D student at Marquette University. The primary purpose of this blog is to get my ideas out there, and then have other people scrutinize, critique, build upon, and systematize beliefs. This blog will sometimes pertain to what I'm learning in my classes, but it will occasionally deal with non-classroom issues that I'm thinking about as well.
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