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Keeping Up With CRISPR/Cas9

Posted by Kendall Morgan on Mar 11, 2014 1:55:37 PM

If any of you are finding it hard to keep up with the news on CRISPR, there's a pretty good reason for that. Lately, significant advances in the understanding and application of CRISPR/Cas9 technology are coming along at a fast and furious pace. In December, as we've blogged about before, there was the first direct demonstration that CRISPR's could be used to correct disease mutations, both in mice and in human cells. But that important advance was quickly followed by even splashier news: Jiahao Sha of Nanjing Medical University had successfully used the CRISPR/Cas9 system to precisely edit specific genes in monkeys.

"Our study shows that the CRISPR/Cas9 system enables simultaneous disruption of two target genes in one step without producing off-target mutations," Sha was quoted as saying when the news first broke. "Considering that many human diseases are caused by genetic abnormalities, targeted genetic modification in monkeys is invaluable for the generation of human disease models."

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Topics: Plasmid Technology, Genome Engineering, CRISPR

Mentoring for Scientists: I Have a Mentor, What Now?

Posted by Joanne Kamens on Mar 6, 2014 2:12:00 PM

This is the fifth and final post in the Addgene Blog Mentoring for Scientists Series. The entire series and additional resources can be downloaded in E-Book format at the end of this post.

If you have been following the posts in this Mentoring for Scientists series, you have: realized the value of having a mentor, developed some strategies for finding mentors and, perhaps, asked someone to support your career development as your mentor. How do you make the most of this new relationship? Consider adding formality and active goal setting to your mentoring relationships, so that you can reap rewards in the form of reaching career development goals.

Check out Joanne's Reddit AMA

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Topics: Career, Mentoring for Scientists

Interview: Ed Boyden on Optogenetics, Neuroscience, and the Future of Neuroengineering

Posted by Kendall Morgan on Mar 4, 2014 11:49:07 AM

As MIT's Ed Boyden explains it, his goal is "to understand the brain at a level of abstraction that enables the engineering of its function." Once scientists can do that, they will not only understand how the brain works, but also how to fix it when things go awry. To reach that goal, his group develops tools to tinker with brain circuits using the power of light.

In a recent article published in Nature Methods, Boyden and his team describe the discovery of a light-sensitive opsin from algae that is sensitive to red light instead of blue, which will allow researchers to independently control the activity of two populations of neurons at once.

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Topics: Plasmid Technology, Interview, Investigator Feature, Optogenetics

Why Scientists Should Give Twitter a Try

Posted by Kendall Morgan on Feb 27, 2014 12:21:05 PM

If your PI or peers are like most of the researchers I know, they probably aren’t avid fans or active users of Twitter. But did you know a lot of scientists and others who care about science – science journalists and scientific organizations (including Addgene) - are on Twitter? It turns out Twitter can be a great way to expand your network well beyond the lab and engage in interesting conversations about science, or at least eavesdrop on them. As noted by an article prepared for Ideas in Ecology and Evolution,Twitter can provide access to a ‘virtual’ department of followers that almost always exceeds the size of traditional academic departments. (For more choice nuggets from this paper, take a closer look at the infographic that was created by Catherine Pratt on her website, katiephd.com.)

An engaging conversation in snippets of 140 characters or less, you might be asking yourself? Yes, exactly.

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Topics: Fun, Scientific Sharing

Plasmids 101: Yeast Vectors

Posted by Marcy Patrick on Feb 25, 2014 2:11:00 PM

In our first few Plasmids 101 posts, we focused mainly on the elements required for plasmid maintenence within an E. coli cell, but vectors can be widely utilized across many different cell types and each one requires different elements for vector propogation. This post, along with a future companion post on mammalian vectors, will catch you up on the core replication and resistance features of yeast vectors and explain how they differ from the bacterial elements previously described.

Why Do Scientists Use Yeast Vectors?

Yeast are eukaryotes and thus contain complex internal cell structures similar to those of plants and animals. Unlike bacteria, yeast can post-translationally modify proteins yet they still share many of the same technical advantages that come with working with prokaryotes. This includes but is not limited to: rapid growth, ease of replica plating and mutant isolation, a well-defined genetic system, and a highly versatile DNA transformation system.

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Topics: Plasmid How To, Plasmid Elements, Lab Tips, Plasmids 101

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