My project is starting to ramp down. I am continuing to assist Fort Lewis in their procedure and reagent choices, while eagerly awaiting June so that I may use their labs. I have been accepted into Bio 113 at the fort, which will alleve the issues of project funding and liability. It appears that I will be able to implement my lab design, just not in the timely manner I had hoped for. One issue I am running into is my availability. I am having to balance this project, other school work, and now prep for the AP biology and calculus tests, and SAT subject tests. I will reach out to professor blake later today, and get an update on the status of the grant for the founding of the CRISPR program. While this is not the outcome I had originally expected, I am extremely pleased with this outcome, and I am looking forward to seeing the fruits of my labour.
In the past week, a lot has happened. I had a meeting with Professor David Blake, the professor of microbiology at Fort Lewis college, in order to discuss the prospect of my usage of their labs to allow me to work with CRISPR plasmids. Unfortunately, it was decided that I could not use the Fort Lewis college biology labs. This decision was based on a combination of liability issues, lack of funding for my project, and insufficient time. While this is unfortunate, I was given the opportunity to help him develop a CRISPR program and to use this program in conjunction with enrollment in a summer biology class. While my project is not taking the route I had hoped for it, I am excited and thankful to be given this opportunity. I am currently making my way through reading an extremely detailed protocol for CRISPR acquisition and culture. I hope to finish this by next Tuesday and send my suggestions to Professor Blake early next week.
Another week gone bye. This week has been fairly quiet. I have taken into account all of the feedback I have received, and refined my lab design as much as possible. I have arranged a meeting with Dr. Blake( the professor of microbiology at Fort Lewis College.) on Friday. From this meeting I hope to gain access to his resources and lab. I also found that I need to become more adept at explaining my project. I learned this through a gallery walk which was performed wednesday. I attempted to explain my project, and was met with only blank stares. I foresee issues with this and also with the time allotted for this project. Obviously, I will continue my project even after the six weeks given to us, but I worry about loss of credibility when transitioning between a “school project” to the crazed questions of a 16 year old. I do think that I will be able to accomplish my project in this time however. I hope to begin my lab work as soon as my materials arrive, which will be hopefully be some time in the middle of next week.
The last week has actually been quite eventful. During this time, I have finished my lab design, and passed it off to Professor Blake. I had my lab design reviewed by 8 teachers in my school, and give me feedback on how I could improve its clarity, flow, specificity, and formatting. I also had my paper reviewed by my mentor Dr.Peter Mcnamara and the professor of anatomy at Fort Lewis College, Professor Amanda Saddler. Professor Amanda Saddler then passed my paper to Professor Blake, and I am expecting to meet with him early next week, as he is currently at an out of town conference. I am facing difficulties with refining my procedures and basic lab skills. I will be working with my other mentor Tina Hott to hone these skills before I go to the Fort Lewis lab. I will hopefully be using the Fort Lewis labs by early next week, and continue my testing over spring break.
This week has led me in a more effective direction for my project. I spoke with Dr. Peter Carver, who holds a PHD in microbiology. Dr. Carver and I discussed my aims and methods in my project, and decided my time would be better spent in buying a plasmid, instead of working to isolate and amplify one. He also gave me several labs who have done extensive research with CRISPR plasmids, and who would be valuable research assets. I am predicting issues with financial support of my project, as the plasmid will cost $65. I took his words into account, and am in the process of revising my lab report to accomodate for his recommendations. I currently have my entire materials list, and will have a finished report by thursday. I will send my lab design to Professor Blake by the end of thursday, and hopefully gain access to the labs by next week. I will continue to work closely with my mentor Tina Hott, and Peter Carver, and I will hopefully be on track to start testing next week.
This week was full of preparation. I proceeded with researching CRISPR-Cas9 plasmid isolation, gRNA acquisition and creation, and Viral capsid synthesis. I have also decided on several pivotal aspects of my project. I have decided to treat Beta-Thalassemia, to synthesis Human Mastadenovirus capsids as the viral vector for my CRISPR plasmids, and to use Streptococcus Pyogenes to culture this plasmid. I am currently working on a draft of my lab design, which I will present to Fort Lewis. I hope to have my lab design finished and reviewed by wednesday of next week. I am running into issues with finding the correct parameters for the aqueous solution in which I will be synthesizing my adenoviral capsids. I have reached out to the authors of an article which explains these parameters, and have requested access, but I am yet to hear from them. Moving forward, I plan to continue work on my lab design, and to begin working with Fort Lewis at some point within the next two weeks.
Friday February 26
During this project, it will be my goal to cultivate a functional CRISPR-Cas9 system as well as an effective viral eukaryotic vector for this system. This system will ideally be usable in treatment of genetic diseases. If successful ,this could result in a major step towards the curing genetic disorders. This project will revolve around the Idea of audience centered learning, instead of student centered learning. This entails the focus of the project to be put towards the creation of a usable product. In order to do this, I will need access to a functional biology lab as well as bacteria and viral capsids capable of cultivating the CRISPR-Cas9 system. In order to make this project successful I will need to communicate with the Fort Lewis College Biology department and advocate for lab usage, acquire several forms of bacteria and viral phages, and investigate moral quarrels and arguments against genome editing.
My name is Rollin Leavitt.