Short Course on Insect Genetic Technologies – August 2015

BF and DsRed beetleThe Insect Genetic Technologies Research Coordination Network is offering a short course on insect genetic technologies August 17-21, 2015.

Today there are myriad technologies for modifying genomes.

Technologies are emerging rapidly and it is a challenge for investigators to keep up with the latest developments.

The rapid rise of CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing and related technologies has created a ‘buzz’ within insect research communities that anything is possible and that much of it is easy.

Clearly the options of insect scientists for modifying insect genomes have increased significantly in the last few years but ‘easy’ is not a term I would associate with the modification of most insect genomes.  Lest we forget, essentially every germline-technology currently must be delivered to germ cells by direct microinjection of very young embryos.

Modifying somatic gene expression using RNA interference-based approaches could be considered easy, but as a method for doing functional genomics, it is a fairly blunt instrument.

So, the deluge of technologies and technical challenges associated with deploying those technologies seems to  justify the creation of a short course to condense and distill the now substantial array of insect technologies and to provide students with skills and knowledge on how to actually deliver these technologies to insects for the purposes of creating genetically modified insects.

Insect Genetic Technologies: Theory and Practice is a course designed by the IGTRCN Workships Working Group and sponsored by the IGTRCN for the purposes of broadening and deepening knowledge of what genetic technologies exist, how they work, what they do and how to actually use them.

Cas9The class is intended to be a ‘crash course’  consisting of lectures on genome editing, transposon-based technologies, site-specific recombination-based tehnologies, gene expression strategies, gene silencing technologies, genetic ‘drive’ systems and hazards, risks and regulation to provide students with the latest knowledge.  In addition there will an abundance of laboratory time in which students will learn embryo, larvae, nymph and adult microinjection methods and others skills such as manufacturing needles, etc.  The laboratory part of the course will also include instructions on vector design, transgene detection and confirmation, design of guide RNAs for use in CRISPR/Cas9-based technologies.

Multiple insect species will be available for students to work with so that students can appreciate the breadth and depth of challenges that must be overcome to be successful and to equip them with some perspective on how to approach those challenges.

Gal4/UAS Transcription System in Drosophila

Gal4/UAS Transcription System in Drosophila

The course will be held in The Insect Transformation Facility (ITF) at the University of Maryland College Park which specializes in the creation of genetically modified insects for researchers world-wide and is located just north of Washington D.C..  Course instructors have rich backgrounds and experiences in insect genome modification with a wide variety of insect systems. The ITF is a state of the art technical facility staffed by experts who have decades of experience working with insects and in creating many species of  transgenic insects.

The intention of the course’s creators is to have students leave the course well educated, well trained and well prepared to  consider incorporating the latest technological developments into their own insect research programs.

GreenRobThe cost to students is minimal ($500) and is no more than the average cost of a scientific conference.

Seats are limited to 25.

Midway through the course on Aug 19 the IGTRCN is sponsoring a special evening symposium entitled Flies, NeedlesMonarchs and Mosquitoes: Insights Using Genetic Technologies.  This mini-symposium features presentations by Drs. Norbert Perrimon (Harvard), Steven Reppert (U. Mass. Med. School) and Leslie Voshall (Rockefeller U), all of whom are studying insects and are using genetic technologies to in new and creative ways.  This will be an evening of high powered insect science and technology.

For more details or to register online go here.

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