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Coronavirus: Research Guidance for the ChristianaCare Community >

A Journey of Discovery

The Gene Editing Institute is the only research institute of its kind in the nation based within a community health care system. Led by gene editing pioneer, Eric Kmiec, Ph.D., and based in ChristianaCare’s Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute, the Gene Editing Institute is a worldwide leader in gene editing biomedical research in cancer and other inherited diseases, and the only one working in the same space with oncologists, genetic counselors and patients, bringing translational research from basic science to patient treatment to an entirely new level.

Breakthrough discoveries using CRISPR

The re-engineering of human chromosomes is taking place at a rapid rate using a recently developed molecular toolbox. Among the most important tools in the box is CRISPR/Cas9, a remarkable gene editing instrument that enables the precise and sometimes imprecise rearrangement of DNA sequences at a frequency once thought to be impossible.

The rapid advancement of these genetic tools has led to an explosion in development of human therapeutics for the treatment of inherited diseases and cancer, with the Gene Editing Institute involved in breakthrough discoveries.

Addressing multiple facets of gene editing through our missions

The first mission is to conduct grant funded innovative translational research in CRISPR-directed human gene editing with a focus on elucidating the therapeutic application of gene editing for solid tumors. The research goals also center on establishing fundamental mechanisms of action surrounding CRISPR/Cas.

The second mission is to design and develop and deliver focused educational curricula for undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty interested in learning about gene editing.

The third mission is to provide a biomedical resource core facility (Custom CRISPR Services) for the synthesis, hands on training, and dissemination of gene editing technologies to research institutions and bio-related companies throughout the world.

The fourth mission is to engage in sustainable partnerships with life science companies and research institutions through license deals and joint ventures.

The fifth mission is to conduct community outreach in gene editing so that ethical questions surrounding the use of gene editing technologies can be explained in a rational and fact-based fashion outlining both its incredible potential and its current limitations.

What’s next?

Building on our passion for the science and openness to new possibilities, we’ve experienced tremendous growth. Armed with a new business plan, we are poised to expand and focus on:

  • A CRISPR Core services unit – enables us to become competitive in the cell engineering business and to partner with corporate and non-profit entities.
  • An oncology unit – positions us to develop our intellectual property using gene editing for lung cancer and advance it toward Investigational New Drug (IND) status with the FDA.
  • A pioneering Discovery Lab – advances the understanding and use of CRISPR gene editing and other emerging tools. The Lab is home to prestigious grants from a variety of funders, including the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the international BIRD Foundation. Currently, we are collaborating with leaders in gene editing at Bar Ilan University in Israel to unravel one of the challenges today in gene editing related to off-site mutagenesis.

Innovative solutions to achieve equity

These bold moves are possible only with the support of ChristianaCare, which recognizes gene editing as a form of precision medicine and a part of what separates our health organization from others due to its emphasis on innovation and population health. The Institute’s vision encompasses organizational growth – in people, products and programs.

A key component of our mission is to address equity in the education of future STEM leaders. Our partnership with Delaware Tech and Rockland Immunochemicals provides a platform to expand gene editing instruction and exposure to science to communities far and wide, especially focusing on developing curricula and laboratories for students in underserved communities.

We welcome inquiries from those who want to join us in these efforts.

Gene Editing Institute
Siobhan Hawthorne
SHawthorne@ChristianaCare.org