A $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) is going to go towards gene editing and curriculum on Delaware Technical and Community College's Stanton campus.
Christiana Care's Gene Editing Institute has been partnering with Delaware Technical Community College (DTCC), and the curriculum has already been in place under the tutelage of Dr. John McDowell for two semesters.
"These students are advanced in the sense that the paper about things they've been doing in the lab was published after they were doing it," said McDowell.
DTCC and Christiana Care have been pioneering the research, and the gene editing program is a unique one.
"It is humbling to know that we get the opportunity to do this kind of research and help humanity," said DTCC third-year student Sheldon Wilson. "This grant opens up so many more opportunities for us to fight these viruses and disease within the human genome."
Fellow third-year student Deborah Negron explained why the research is critical.
"Proteins get made wrong in the body so we can use crispr cas9 to go into the DNA and fix it," said Negron. "From there we are trying to create therapies using crispr cas9 and other gene editing methods to go in and fix those things in people."
Negron noted that the curriculum is boosted by the partnership with Christiana Care, and now, the grant from the NSF and directly aids students like herself in striving for a career in the chemistry, biology, and medical fields.
"From here we get all the training to do all the lab work and get our feet wet with all of the gene editing materials that they're using so we can take that training on to make a difference in whatever field we are going into," said Negron. "I plan on getting my PhD and becoming a doctor or [in] some field in biology research--so I want to get all the information I can when it comes to the latest in gene editing and biology."
Director of Christiana Care's Gene Editing Institute, Dr. Eric Kmeic, said that the partnership is an exciting venture and that version three of the gene editing curriculum is already in the works.
Both Christiana Care and DTCC know that the pioneering research is cutting edge, but it boils down to one thing.
"Ultimately, our goal is to improve and develop the workforce in Delaware by training students to become technicians or send them to graduate school where they'll compete successfully with others because they'll know how to do gene editing," said Kmeic. "The research is exciting but at the end of the day, it's all about the patients."