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Mouse Modeling, Part 1: Genetically Engineered Mice

Posted by Aliyah Weinstein on Jul 11, 2019 9:26:08 AM

Mice are a common model organism used to understand mammalian traits and genetically engineered mouse models provide researchers with useful and adaptable tools to perform basic and preclinical research. For scientists new to using mouse models, the possibilities may seem endless - and overwhelming.

In the first blog post in this series, I’ll highlight terminology you should be familiar with before working with mouse models, several common techniques used to create engineered mouse models at embryonic stages, and the pros and cons of different genome editing techniques.

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Topics: Genome Engineering

SciComm: Taking Science to Elementary and Middle Schools

Posted by Eric J. Perkins on Jul 9, 2019 8:52:00 AM

As a person with many roles and responsibilities, I have to think a lot about how to balance those roles. I’m a father of three, a scientist and science communicator, and I strive to be a volunteer and contribute to my community. This past year, I spent some time thinking about how I could combine all of these roles by reaching out to my school district not just as a dad, but as a scientist.

When our elementary school needed a new coordinator for the annual Math & Science Night, I took the reigns. I also volunteered when our middle school’s 8th grade science teachers reached out to their students’ STEM-oriented parents looking for experts to come give guest presentations. If you’re a scientist thinking about reaching out to your community’s schools, here are a few tips and lessons I’ve picked up from my recent experiences.

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Topics: Science Communication

New Tools Enable CRISPRa for Neuroscience Applications

Posted by Guest Blogger on Jul 2, 2019 8:51:40 AM

This post was contributed by Patrick Miller-Rhodes, a Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Predoctoral Fellow at University of Rochester Medical Center.

During development, complex genetic programs specify and assemble diverse arrays of neurons, forming the neuronal circuits that will later be refined through experience. However, studying the genetic underpinnings of these processes has been complicated by the lack of precise genetic tools for modulating gene expression in the central nervous system (CNS). To address this technological gap, a trio of recent papers describe the development of CRISPR activation (CRISPRa) tools for neuroscience, including transgenic mice, neuron-optimized viral vectors, and high-throughput screening approaches. Here, we’ll highlight these recent advancements and offer commentary on their application to neuroscience research.

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Topics: CRISPR

Plasmid Tools for Microbiome Studies

Posted by Jennifer Tsang on Jun 27, 2019 8:25:58 AM

Microbiome studies have traditionally fallen into studies of who’s there and what are they doing. To address these questions, biologists often use next-generation sequencing. Sequencing the 16S rRNA reveals the identity of the organisms present while sequencing of all transcripts gives clues into what the microbes are doing.

But aside from sequencing, scientists can also study the microbiome by using engineered genetic tools and reporter microbes. Let’s take a look at a few of these methods below.

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Topics: Microbiology

Plasmids 101: Transformation, Transduction, Bacterial Conjugation, and Transfection

Posted by Alyssa Cecchetelli on Jun 25, 2019 8:54:52 AM

Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is the movement of genetic material between organisms. It plays a key role in bacterial evolution and is the primary mechanism by which bacteria have gained antibiotic resistance and virulence. Scientists have studied how HGT occurs in nature and have learned how to introduce genetic materials into cells in the lab.

The introduction of foreign DNA or RNA into bacteria or eukaryotic cells is a common technique in molecular biology and scientific research. There are multiple ways foreign DNA can be introduced into cells including transformation, transduction, conjugation, and transfection. Transformation, transduction, and conjugation occur in nature as forms of HGT, but transfection is unique to the lab. Let’s take a look at these different methods of DNA insertion.

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Topics: Plasmids 101

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