On 16 August 2023, the IAS NTU and Graduate Students’ Club of CCEB and SBS jointly organised the Discovery Science Seminar titled "Our Journey in the CRISPR World from 2013", featuring Associate Professor Tan Meng How (Associate Chair, Students & Continuing Education, CCEB).
Prof Tan did his PhD and postdoctoral training in developmental biology at Stanford University. His research group focuses on the basic biology and translational applications of DNA and RNA editing. He has published corresponding authored papers in top academic journals, including Nature, Nature Methods, Nature Chemical Biology, and Nature Communications. He received the Outstanding Young Principal Investigator Award from AIChE-SLS in 2019 and was named an EMBO Global Investigator in 2020.
During the seminar, Prof Tan outlined how the CRISPR field has evolved over the years and shared some of his work on the development and application of new CRISPR tools to manipulate DNA and RNA in vitro and in living cells. He provided a brief introduction to the early development of programmable molecular scissors, such as the Meganuclease and Zinc finger nucleases and TALENs. He then gave an introduction of CRISPR and its history stories. He also gave various examples and proposed methods targeting DNA and RNA separately. Based on the introduced Cas9 and Cas12, he mentioned the inducible genome editing systems and CRISPR-based transcriptional or epigenetic regulators, for various biomedical and biotechnological applications. As for RNA editing, Prof Tan shared the research in investigating the roles of A-to-I editing in stem cell differentiation and how defective editing can contribute to the pathogenesis of various diseases like cancer and neurodegeneration. Prof Tan further elaborated on employing genetic, biochemical, and cell biological approaches to map out the full repertoire of editing regulators. Some noteworthy examples of the application of CRISPR technologies are given such as butterfly disease.
Prof Tan sharing about the evolution of CRISPR technologies with a rapt audience.
In addition to the overview of the CRISPR technologies and applications, Prof Tan mentioned the ethical concern along with the research and talked about the problems that might arise. He concluded by discussing the future direction of the research field.
Prof Tan addressed several questions from the audience, which ranged from the applications of CRISPR therapy to the specific details about CRISPR. He also shared his research experience and encouraged young researchers to persist in their ideas and his attitude about publishing papers. His useful suggestions and advice were well received by the audience.
Prof Tan addressed intriguing questions from the students with insightful advice.
"CRISPR application is huge and promising for more investigations in the future." - Foo Wei Han (PhD student, CCEB)
"The therapeutic applications of CRISPR." - Ko Xue Ting Ashley (Undergraduate, LKCMedicine)
"Prof Tan is an excellent speaker; the concepts and ideas he presented were explained very well." - Sneha Chandra (Undergraduate, MSE)
"As somebody who only has a secondary-school level knowledge of biology, I appreciate its accessibility." - Wang Xianyao (Undergraduate, SCSE)
Written by Zhang Xuewen, CCEB Graduate Students’ Club