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BIO 85 — Designer Biology: The Science, Technology, and Promise of Genetic Engineering

Quarter: Summer
Day(s): Mondays
Course Format: On-campus course
Duration: 6 weeks
Date(s): Jun 26—Aug 14
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm
Drop Deadline: Jul 16
Unit: 1
Tuition: $285
Instructor(s): Lamia Wahba
Status: Closed
Please Note: No class on July 3 and 31
On-campus course
7:00—8:50 pm
Jun 26—Aug 14
6 weeks
Drop By
Jul 16
1 Unit
Lamia Wahba
Please Note: No class on July 3 and 31
What happens when biology—specifically its genetic code, the fundamental building block driving the birth-to-death lifecycle of all living beings—becomes easily programmable by humans? Genetic engineering, often called “designer biology,” is the science of making deliberate changes in the genome of organisms, in order to produce a desired change in biological characteristics. Such manipulations hold the promise of significantly impacting fundamental human challenges—warding off human diseases, increasing longevity, improving global food security, creating novel sources for renewable energy, and perhaps even reanimating extinct species.

In recent decades, scientists have discovered and built a powerful set of gene-editing technologies that have made the promise of designer biology more likely than ever before. In this course, we will explore the basics of genomes and the engineering tools used to modify them. After a brief tour of genetics and how genes are packaged and organized into genomes, we will cover the fundamentals of editing tools—what are they and how do they work? We will then dive into the new cuttingedge applications of these tools and discuss how they are reportedly being used to edit embryos, provide last-ditch cancer treatments, and treat autism-spectrum disorders. We will end with a discussion of the challenges and hurdles—both technical and ethical—associated with genome editing.

Lamia Wahba, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Pathology, Stanford School of Medicine

Lamia Wahba currently works in the lab of Dr. Andrew Fire investigating how small RNAs impact our genes. She has taught a course on gene expression and pathways at UC Santa Cruz Extension. Prior to coming to Stanford, she completed graduate work in genetics at UC Berkeley. She received a PhD in biology from Johns Hopkins University.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.