Public Release: 

Gene editing technology investigator honored for groundbreaking research

American Association of Anatomists

BETHESDA, MD. (March, 24, 2015) - The newest gene editing tool - called CRISPR-Cas9 - is leading to new research possibilities in cell biology and neuroscience. This includes the ability to make transgenic animal models more quickly, which helps researchers better study diseases that affect thousands of people each year. Using CRISPR-Cas 9 technology, transgenic mouse models- which are models that contain DNA isolated from one organism transferred into a different organism- are created in a matter of three weeks versus six months. This means the study of gene mutations and potential therapies happens much more rapidly.

A leading researcher in this field of study is Feng Zhang, Ph.D., of the Broad Institute of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Zhang is the 2015 recipient of the American Association of Anatomists (AAA) C.J. Herrick Award in Neuroanatomy for his work with the CRISPR-Cas9 genome manipulation technology. On Monday March 30th 2015, Dr. Zhang will lead a lecture, "Development and Applications of CRISPR-Cas9 for Genome Manipulations," at the AAA annual meeting at Experimental Biology 2015.

"One of my long-term goals is to develop CRISPR-Cas9 as a therapeutic strategy, and to do that, we must first concentrate on deploying and refining the technique in vivo. This will help us create better models of disease, identify mechanisms and causal mutations, and make definitive diagnoses," said Dr. Zhang.

Dr. Zhang's talk will focus on the latest developments in CRISPR-Cas9 technology, including applications to study gene function in vivo as well as high throughput screening assays to help speed the level of development is basic science trials. Dr. Zhang's plans to use this technology to study disorders such as Huntington's disease, autism and schizophrenia.

Dr. Zhang will present the findings during the AAA annual meeting at Experimental Biology 2015 meeting on Monday, March 30 from 5:30 - 6:15 p.m. at the Neurobiology Award Hybrid Symposia in room 104AB, Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

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About AAA: The American Association of Anatomists (AAA) was founded by Joseph Leidy in Washington, D.C. in 1888 for the "advancement of anatomical science." Today, via research, education and professional development activities, AAA serves as the professional home for an international community of biomedical researchers and educators focusing on the structural foundation of health and disease.

About Experimental Biology (EB): EB is an annual meeting comprised of over 14,000 scientists representing six sponsoring societies and multiple guest societies. Primary focus areas include anatomy, physiology, pathology, biochemistry, nutrition and pharmacology. EB is open to all members of the sponsoring and guest societies and nonmembers interested in the latest research impacting life sciences. Attendees represent scientists, academic institutions, government agencies, non-profit organizations and private corporations.

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