How to stay fresh on Crispr

Look no further for resources on Crispr.
Look no further for resources on Crispr.
Image: REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
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Crispr and other gene editing are on the verge of transforming your food, pets, healthcare, and maybe even you. So you just might want to keep it on your radar. The following thinkers and doers will help you know what’s coming and how to make sense of it all.

The experts to know

The Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT is like the Goldman Sachs of gene editing: Top players, super connected, ridiculous funding. Much of the best research on Crispr comes out of the Broad, which has a wealth of posts, graphics, and videos explaining it all. Follow @broadinstitute.

The Innovative Genomics Institute is the Broad’s west-coast equivalent, a partnership between UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco with the goal of pursuing cutting-edge genetics research and keeping the public up to speed. Excellent source of information on the latest Crispr research Follow @igisci.

MIT’s Kevin Esvelt wrote the first paper on using Crispr to build a gene drive. His Sculpting Evolution group at MIT’s Media Lab studies both gene drives and new ways of practicing science that won’t lose the public’s trust. Always a compelling voice Follow @kesvelt.

Tufts professor Sam Weiss Evans is the go-to guy for assessing which emerging technologies to worry about and which we can safely ignore. Follow @SAWEvans.

Scientist and investor Rob Carlson is the best-known biotech business guru. He wrote Biology Is Technology: The Promise, Peril, and New Business of Engineering Life and founded Bioeconomy Capital, which manages a fund focused on industrial biotech. Follow @rob_carlson.

The books and reports to read

For an in-depth account of the discovery and promise of Crispr from the co-discoverer herself, go straight to Jennifer Doudna’s excellent A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Creation. For the latest Crispr advances, follow the Doudna lab.

Stanford Law professor and bioethics expert Hank Greely literally wrote the book on designer babies. The End of Sex and the Future of Human Reproduction is a profound consideration of Crispr, Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis, and other technologies that are quickly revolutionizing how we make babies. Greely is also an energetic tweeter on these topics Follow @HankGreelyLSJU.

In 2017, the National Academy of Sciences published a free, 328-page definitive report titled Human Genome Editing: Science, Ethics, and Governance. The NAS also has a comprehensive 2016 report called Gene Drives on the Horizon.

In 2018, Stanford University and George Mason University published Editing Biosecurity, an excellent 90-page report that provides the best overview of Crispr’s risk landscape and potential applications and includes a clear explanation of the science.

Every year SynBioBeta produces a Synthetic Biology Annual Investment Report with all the key details about who is investing in what in synthetic biology.

The journalists and news sites to follow

Some of the best stories on gene editing, including an analysis of where China’s gene-edited baby scandal might take us next, come from Quartz’s own Akshat Rathi. Follow @AkshatRathi.

Many of the most important stories on gene editing, including the “designer babies” story, were broken by Antonio Regalado of MIT Technology Review. Regalado is arch, opinionated, indefatigable, razor-sharp, and he’s right in the heart of it all in Kendall Square. On Twitter he’s @antonioregalado.

SynBioBeta is the LinkedIn of synthetic biology—the place where investors and innovators network. It’s the best place to go for news on the business end of synbio.

Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News is exactly what it sounds like, and its well-made weekly newsletters will keep the latest developments in the Crispr revolution right in your inbox.

The Trendy Award goes to the Crispr Journal, launched in 2018, which focuses exclusively on Crispr science and commentary. Follow @crisprjournal.