New AfPBA CRISPR Course
What is CRISPR?
CRISPR (an acronym for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) refers a gene editing approach that enables specific, directed changes to DNA. CRISPR was the basis for the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to biochemist Jennifer Doudna of the University of California (UC) Berkeley for her discovery of this precision tool for genome editing, together with French microbiologist Emmanuelle Charpentier. Professor Doudna founded the IGI, a partnership between UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco, to advance genome research for a better world. CRISPR holds huge promise for making desired genetic changes in a precise way, providing another tool to enable plant breeders to rise to the challenges of a changing climate and rapidly growing population at the pace that these demand.
Doudna (left) and Charpentier (right)
AfPBA CRISPR Course Goal
The course is an intensive 6-week program delivered in three 2-week sessions over a period of a year at World Agroforestry and at ILRI in Nairobi, Kenya. It focuses on steps to accomplish genome editing from design through validation. Using banana as a model plant, participants formulate targets, design plasmids, perform trait delivery to cells, regenerate plants, and validate results. The course prepares participants to develop key traits (e.g. nutritional content, disease resistance, longer shelf life) in crops aligned to their own national and institutional priorities.
A unique element of this program involves post-mentorship and ongoing support for sustained lab productivity beyond course completion and founding of translational partnerships for commercialization and value chain development.
The course leverages DNA sequence information being amassed by the AOCC on 100 African orphan crops, which include a diversity of vegetable, fruit, nut, legume, oilseed, cereal, and tree species. Furthermore, it emphasizes the role of CRISPR in the overall scheme of cultivar development and in addressing the needs of smallholder farmers, and will support a Community of Practice strongly linked to the disciplines required for product launch, seed distribution, and farmer adoption.
Who should attend?
The course is targeted toward molecular scientists currently engaged in national programs in Africa in institutions that are willing to embark on gene editing research. Priority will be given to those from countries where AfPBA plant breeder alumni are working, as we promote the formation of multi-disciplinary teams in crop improvement. Attendees can be working on any crop.
The AfPBA CRISPR Course will launch with its first cohort in August, 2022. The Call for Applications for AfPBA CRISPR Course Class I will be issued in early 2022.
For more information and funding opportunities,
AOCC Partners in Delivering the AfPBA CRISPR Course
News and Updates
- UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences announces new course offering of the African Plant Breeding Academy
- Generous Gift from Bayer Will Support Three Participants in the AfPBA CRISPR Course, Class I