Editing Reproduction:

CRISPR and preventing heritable diseases

Dietrich Egli 

PhD, Molecular Biology, University of Zurich,

Maimonides Assistant Professor of Developmental Cell Biology, Columbia University

Samuel H. Sternberg

BA, Biochemistry, Columbia University; PhD, Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley

Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Columbia University

Host: Dr. Frances Onyimba, PS '12

Assistant Professor at University of Maryland School of Medicine

The genome we are endowed with at conception determines much of our health as an adult. Most human diseases have a heritable component and thus it may be possible to prevent them through heritable genome editing. Preventing disease from the beginning of life, and before irreversible damage occurs is just one of the many transformative opportunities of CRISPR/Cas systems. The ability to target an enzymatic activity to a precise location of the genome is already transforming science and is also poised to change medicine in many ways.

Please join us as our special panel explores the state of the field and distinguish science from science fiction. Dr. Sternberg will explain CRISPR and its origins, its ability to recruit enzymatic activities to the genome in a targeted manner, and how it has evolved into a powerful precision gene-editing tool. Then Dr. Egli Dieter will present pioneering research at Columbia and elsewhere on CRISPR's application in Reproduction, and its therapeutic potential in the adult population.

Time will be allocated for Q&A.

Dr. Dietrich Egli, grew up in Switzerland, and received his Ph.D. in molecular biology in 2003 from the University of Zurich with the mentorship of Prof. Walter Schaffner. He then joined the laboratory of Prof. Kevin Eggan at Harvard University as a postdoctoral fellow where he studied somatic cell reprogramming. Joining the New York Stem Cell Foundation Research Institute as one of the founding members in 2008, first as a postdoctoral fellow and from 2011 as an independent group leader, his group made numerous advances in somatic cell nuclear transfer and mitochondrial replacement. He is both a NYSCF Druckenmiller Alumn as well as a NYSCF Robertson Fellow Alumn, and is now the Maimonides Assistant Professor of Developmental Cell Biology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Areas of research in his group include human embryonic development, somatic cell reprogramming, modeling of metabolic disease using pluripotent stem cells, cell cycle regulation and double strand break repair, and preventing the transmission of disease-causing mutations in human reproduction.

Samuel H. Sternberg, PhD, runs a research laboratory at Columbia University, where he is an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics. He received his B.A. in Biochemistry from Columbia University in 2007, graduating summa cum laude, and his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 2014, under the mentorship of Dr. Jennifer Doudna. He earned graduate student fellowships from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense, and received the Scaringe Award and the Harold Weintraub Graduate Student Award. Sam's research focuses on the mechanism of DNA targeting by RNA-guided bacterial immune systems (CRISPR-Cas) and on the development of these systems for genome engineering applications. He is the recent recipient of the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, and is a Sloan Fellow and Pew Biomedical Scholar. In addition to publishing his work in leading scientific journals, he co-authored a popular science book with Jennifer Doudna, entitled A Crack in Creation, about the discovery, development, and applications of CRISPR gene-editing technology.


Frances Onyimba MD is a gastroenterologist at the University of Maryland Medical Center with a focus in esophageal diseases and GI motility disorders. She completed medical school at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons prior to completing her internal medicine residency and a fellowship in GI motility and Neurogastroenterology at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. She subsequently completed her general GI fellowship at University of California San Diego, where she served as a chief fellow. In 2019, she was selected into the Young Physician Leadership Scholars Program by the American College of Gastroenterology for leadership development and physician advocacy. Her interests include health communications and innovative programs and practices within healthcare.



April 22, 2021 at 6:30pm - 8pm


Washington, DC
United States

Miyako Yerick

Richard Willing Patricia Zingsheim

Will you come?

$10.00 All other guests #tickets at $10 each
$5.00 ColumbiaDC members #tickets at $5 each