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Advances in biomedical research techniques, such as gene editing, have outpaced the rate at which this knowledge is introduced into the college curriculum, particularly at primarily undergraduate institutions. This is largely due to lack of funds and opportunities for professional growth for faculty members who have minimal time for developing curriculum and laboratory activities on their own.

To address this disparity, the Gene Editing Institute has partnered with faculty from the Delaware Technical Community College (DTCC) to develop and disseminate a gene editing curriculum for undergraduates. This partnership combines the content knowledge and expertise of the Gene Editing Institute staff with the DTCC faculty’s expertise in developing and implementing high impact curriculum as well as faculty training workshops.

While generalized training sessions have been impactful and useful, the overwhelmingly positive response from clients and students has encouraged formalized development of this educational curriculum in association with Professor Virginia Balke, Ph.D. from DTCC. The syllabus consists of multiple parts, including webinars and instructional workshops that present foundational lectures as well as hands-on laboratory training in gene editing.

As an adjunct to this effort, the partners will offer workshops to train instructors at community colleges and other undergraduate institutions, as well as to high school teachers, as a mechanism for speeding the transfer of groundbreaking techniques to the college curriculum. The faculty workshops offer background information, lectures, hands-on training and ideas for student-centered classroom activities.

Community colleges provide an appropriate target audience for these workshops and gene editing instruction with their laboratory intensive curriculum and flexibility in modifying course content in response to evolving employer demands. This instruction will position graduates to be more competitive upon entering into the workforce. Core facilities supported through this effort are uniquely capable in this regard in, particularly those in INBRE-supported statewide institutional networks.

The gene editing curriculum is being tested at local high schools and provides programming for The Wistar Institute’s Biomedical Technician Training Program and the Delaware Technical Community College Biotechnology Program. A successful program launch creates opportunities for the Gene Editing Institute to speak at national meetings where its new gene editing program can be the featured topic.