Welch Conference highlights latest advances in genome editing

Online pre-registration deadline Oct. 16 noon

HOUSTON, Oct. 11, 2019 – Genome editing is a breakthrough technique that holds the potential for curing diseases and adapting agriculture to meet the challenges of climate change. On Oct. 21-22 in Houston, The Welch Foundation’s annual research conference will focus on the chemistry involved in genome editing and the latest advances in the field.

“We are in the midst of a revolution in our ability to query and alter genetic material,” said Jennifer Doudna, conference chair, member of The Welch Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board, Li Ka Shing Chancellor’s Chair in Biomedical and Health Sciences, Professor in the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. “Basic research uncovered CRISPR-Cas9 and related enzymes as tools for genome editing, paving the way for both fundamental and applied research and applications.”

The conference will be divided into four sessions, with leading scientists from across the globe sharing their latest research into the mechanisms, applications, imaging and alternatives/future directions of this cutting-edge tool.

Day one, Oct. 21, starts with presenters sharing their work examining the mechanisms of genome editing, including the enzymes involved and the chemistry behind targeted genome manipulation. In the afternoon, the focus shifts to translational work adapting genome editing platforms to research with microbes, plants, insects and mammals. Presenters will share how the technology is being applied in the clinics, fields, and labs around the world.

The Oct. 22 morning session will discuss research into chromosome spatio-temporal organization, information necessary to better understand genome function and evolution. The presenters will detail how innovations in imaging are yielding new insights into the where and when of CRISPR-Cas enzyme binding and cleavage of DNA within the complex 3D structures inside the nucleus.

The last session will explore future directions of genome engineering, including innovations such as base editing that make direct chemical changes to DNA sequences without DNA cleavage. The chemistry of genome editing and imaging will provide a foundation for future discovery and technology development.

“This is exciting science that is changing the way we study biological systems,” said Dr. Doudna, who pioneered CRISPR-mediated genome editing. “By delving into the chemistry behind the tool, we will be able to make huge strides in tackling some of our most devastating diseases as well as addressing challenges in global food supply.”

Admission to “The Chemistry of Genome Editing and Imaging” is free, but registration is required. Oct. 16 at noon is the deadline for online registration; participants may also register onsite. For a complete program and to register, please visit www.welch1.org/conferences. The conference will be held at the Hilton Houston North.

The Welch Foundation, based in Houston, is one of the nation’s largest private funding sources for basic chemical research.  Since 1954, the Foundation has contributed nearly $930 million to the advancement of chemistry through research grants, departmental grants, endowed chairs, and support for other chemistry-related programs in Texas.