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Research Educator: Ryan Doonan

Principal Investigator: Daniel Dickinson, Ph.D.

Credit Options: Spring & Fall

Are you curious about how scientists utilize CRISPR technology to edit the genome of a cell or organism?


The Glow Worms stream involves CRISPR “knock-in” technology to add a fluorescent protein tag (such as GFP) to any gene of Caenorhabditis elegans, a microscopic roundworm.  This allows the expression of the gene, and the behavior of its protein product, to be observed in living animals without the need for overexpression (see the movie for an example of a worm embryo expressing two tagged proteins, one green and one magenta).  C. elegans is one of the most widely used animal model organisms, particularly in the fields of genetics and developmental biology.


Would you like to create your own unique “glow worm”?


Each student in the stream will design, generate, and isolate one or more new C. elegans strains targeting previously-untagged genes.  This involves modern biotechnology skills including bioinformatics, cloning via Gibson assembly, and genetic screening.  Plus, your strain will ultimately be archived at the Caenorhabditis Genetics Center (CGC), a public repository that will credit your personal contribution and make your worm available to a worldwide community of researchers!




The mission of the Dickinson laboratory is to understand the mechanisms of cell polarity; that is, how opposite ends of a cell become molecularly distinct.  We employ a multi-disciplinary approach including single-molecule biochemistry, microfluidics, fluorescence microscopy of living cells, and quantitative image analysis.  We work mainly with C. elegans embryos, but we are currently expanding our work into mammalian cell culture systems.  Using CRISPR genome editing to create tagged genes is essential to our research goals.  Thus, we are excited about collaborating with FRI students, who we expect will make a significant contribution to our work.

For more information, check out The Dickinson Laboratory website.








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Biology, Pre-Med, Public Health