2012 was a big year for the science of snipping DNA to introduce genetic changes into a cell, also known as genome editing. Though Science magazine hailed two new techniques for selectively cutting and pasting DNA in the field of genome engineering as together constituting one of the Top 10 scientific breakthroughs of the year, those methods may already have been surpassed by researchers at the University of California Berkeley using RNA and a single protein. Faster, simpler, and cheaper, the UCB team led by Dr. Jennifer Doudna published initial results of their work genetically modifying bacteria using the RNA-based DNA cleavage technique last summer. The response from the the life science community was extremely positive, with reviews calling it a "tour de force" and a "a real hit," according to the latest press release. Now three more papers are coming out based on the work of the Doudna Lab showing that the RNA programming technique using a bacterial enzyme known as Cas9 is equally effective in making alterations to human genes.
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Tags: University of California, California, CA, Southwest, UC Berkeley, University of California Berkeley, gene therapy, Harvard, AIDS Research, Berkeley, genetic engineering, Molecular Engineering, genomics research, BioResearch Product Faire Event, 2013, 2014, UCBerk
One of the things they got was some very thoughtfully designed labs. Though flexibility of design is important to assure future utility, research team leaders gave significant input into the design of their specific labs to make sure those labs were ideal for the type of research that would be carried out within their walls. Project architect Tim Williams, of Zimmer Gunsul Frasca, said in an interview:
“Scientists spend a lot of time in the lab. The UW faculty wanted to look at how we could make that a nicer place to be."
Here are some of the ways they made a nicer science lab building:
- 5-story, 90,300sf structure
- Each of the four above-ground floors is divided into a laboratory half and an office half
- The basement is a 28,000sf low-vibration lab space
- Houses more than 15 faculty, 3 research centers and 4 major instrumentation centers
- Aluminum-plate shielding on the building guards against electromagnetic waves
- Natural ventilation in office spaces provided by windows that open
- Optimized ventilation in the lab spaces, replacing air 6 times per hour rather than 10
- Innovative commons spaces
- Green roof gardens
UW officials are proud of the new building, not just because it is state-of-the-art, but also because it's "state-of-the-science." Molecular engineering is a relatively new field, and the UW Molecular Engineering and Sciences Institute (MOLES, the building's primary occupant) sees its mission as exploring a new kind of engineering for the 21st Century: rather than build bridges over rivers (still a noble feat), the new molecular engineer may be building proteins that travel to specific parts of the body. He or she may follow the latest developments in chemistry, biology, physics, nanotechnology and predictive modeling; and his or her research projects will often be interdisciplinary, with colleagues from diverse fields and perhaps different institutions.
Furthermore, if life scientists often pursue basic research to understand the building blocks of life, and engineers build things and occupy themselves with practical mechanics and physical principles, the fusion of the two should have tremendous translational potential. Such is the goal of MOLES and their new collaborative workspace. Per their website:
Research at the Institute for Molecular Engineering & Sciences will be evolvable and dynamic, focusing initially on the themes of CleanTech and BioTech.
Some of the faculty scientists who will be doing research in the new MOLES facility include:
- Patrick Stayton, a professor of bioengineering
- Suzie Pun, a bioengineering associate professor
- David Baker, a biochemistry professor
- Daniel Gamelin, a chemistry professor
- Hugh Hillhouse, a chemical engineering professor
- Christine Luscombe, an associate professor of materials science and engineering
(Dr. David Baker seems to come up in our blog series with regularity. For former blogs citing his work, read the following:)
Biotechnology Calendar, Inc. will hold 3 professional tradeshow events focusing on Washington state's bioscience technology and the research partnerships between scientists and the science equipment industry next month on these dates:
- 10/23/2012 -- Washington State University BioResearch Product Faire event, Pullman
- 10/24/2012 -- Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center BRPF event, Seattle
- 10/25/2012 -- University of Washington Front Line event, Seattle
For information on exhibiting at the University of Washington show in particular, and receiving a university research funding report, click here:
Biotechnology Calendar, Inc. is a full service event marketing and planning company producing on-campus, life science research tradeshows nationwide for the past 20 years. We plan and promote each event to bring the best products and services to the best research campuses across the country.
Tags: Energy, New research facilities, construction, University of Washington, new construction, Bioscience research, Northwest, Seattle, Biochemistry, 2012, Engineering, chemistry research, Molecular Engineering, CEEM, UW, Front Line event, WSU