High-school students get hands-on STEM experience at York

High-school students from the community had the opportunity to engage in a hands-on gene editing course at York University through the Helix Summer Science Institute, a program that offers innovative programs designed to inspire youth in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The course, CRISPR: Hacking our DNA and Beyond, ran July 15 to 19 and was one of three courses offered through the biomedical stream in the Faculty of Science as part of its Science Engagement program.

Students and instructor Kashif Aziz Khan pose for a group photo

CRISPR is a new cutting-edge technology for gene editing that has the potential to treat many non-curable diseases in humans. This course was developed and offered by Kashif Aziz Khan due to exponentially increasing interest and controversy around CRISPR gene editing.

The instructor works as a research associate in the Department of Biology.

Students in the course learned the basics of gene editing as well as applications of the technology through hands-on labs, lectures, discussions and debates.

The other two courses offered through the biomedical stream for Grades 11 and 12 students were: Biotechnology in Human Health and Disease, taught by instructor Uzma Nadeem, July 8 to 12; and Fundamentals of Neuroscience, taught by instructor Bianca Baltaretu, July 22 to 26.

The Helix Summer Science Institute runs week-long, non-credit courses annually in July, developed and delivered by professors, postdoctoral fellows, visiting scholars and graduate students.