Field Genomics course brings cutting-edge research techniques to UC Berkeley freshmen

20190605_FG_4_250x188.jpgWith recent advancements in portable, reliable, and low-cost scientific instruments, biological field research is flourishing. Now, a group of UC Berkeley undergraduates is newly equipped to investigate the natural world in real time with these new tools at their disposal.

From May 20-28, 2019, the Department of Integrative Biology’s inaugural Field Genomics summer course immersed first-year undergraduates in cutting-edge molecular biology techniques. The course provided thorough hands-on training in skills such as sample collection, nucleotide isolation, and portable nanopore DNA sequencing.

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Nielsen: CRISPR baby mutation significantly increases mortality

A genetic mutation to help fend off HIV infection is also associated with a 21% increase in mortality in later life, according to an analysis by IB Professor Rasmus Nielsen & postdoctoral scholar Xinzhu Wei.

“Beyond the many ethical issues involved with the CRISPR babies, the fact is that, right now, with current knowledge, it is still very dangerous to try to introduce mutations without knowing the full effect of what those mutations do,” said Nielsen. “In this case, it is probably not a mutation that most people would want to have. You are actually, on average, worse off having it.”

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Researchers Work to Reverse Cognitive Decline as People Age

Daniela Kaufer, professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley, shared progress toward addressing another cause of cognitive decline: dysfunction of the blood-brain barrier. The blood-brain barrier ordinarily protects the brain, but Kaufer’s work shows that when the barrier falters, itself a sign of aging, proteins can enter brain cells called astrocytes, which causes inflammation in the brain and leads to cognitive impairments.

As climate and land-use change accelerate, so must efforts to preserve state’s plants

“We just have a decade or two given the rapid pace of climate and land-use change,” said Brent Mishler, a UC Berkeley professor of integrative biology and director of the University and Jepson Herbaria. “Our opportunities, even 10 years down the line, are way more limited compared to what they are now. What we are going to save, we are going to save quickly. We don’t have forever to leisurely conserve California.”