Applications and implications for us

Jason S Robert 1 CRISPRIf you came across the word CRISPR and thought it was a misspelling of your refrigerator’s vegetable drawer, you’re not alone. CRISPR, a 21st century gene-altering technology, is so new that it’s not yet entered everyday parlance.

At 10 a.m. Monday, Feb. 22, LifeLong Learning will bring you an introduction to this amazing innovation that enables scientists to find a specific bit of DNA inside a cell. Its many potential applications include correcting genetic defects, treating and preventing the spread of diseases and improving crops. CRISPR allows researchers to easily alter DNA sequences and modify gene function. While gene editing existed before CRISPR was unveiled in 2012, only with its introduction did gene editing become cheap and easy.


CRISPR is already widely used for scientific research and to alter the food we eat. The technology is not without its critics, however, as opposition to GMOs (genetically modified organisms) is growing as the percentage of GMO crops that enter our food stream has increased. While GMO crops make farming much easier, there is some concern around their potential effect on the environment and their safety for human consumption - specifically surrounding illnesses and allergies.

In case you were wondering, CRISPR stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats.

Jason Scott Robert, Ph.D., an associate professor of life sciences at Arizona State University, will discuss the ethics and possibilities of this new technology. CRISPR has the potential to transform medicine and could eventually be used to alter the genomes of embryos - China has already attempted this - but for now it is condemned as unethical and premature.

It is just this critical juncture – the conflict between biology and bioethics – that is the subject of Dr. Robert’s research. Funded by the Office of Research Integrity of the US Department of Health and Human Services and other grants, Dr. Robert’s focus is on medical research and the ethical, moral and safety concerns that accompany some CRISPR applications. Dr. Robert earned his master’s and Ph.D. at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.  He has been at ASU since 2014. 

This class will be presented via Zoom and is limited to 100 participants. The class is free but registration is required. Registered attendees will receive the Zoom invitation a few days prior to the event.



DATE:  Monday, Feb 22

ZOOM Check In: 9:45 a.m.

LECTURE Time: 10:00 a.m.   

COST:  No charge

MAXIMUM:  100 - there will be a waitlist

NEW TO ZOOM? For support information, click Virtual Learning


For Additional Information:


Altered Inheritance by Francoise Baylis