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Unfolding ‘The Deepest Mysteries of Creation’ with CRISPR Gene-editing Technology

March 15, 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Opening night of the exhibition, It’s Alive! Frankenstein at 200: The Science Behind the Story.

The lecture

Like the protagonist of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, scientists have long sought to unravel the hidden laws of nature and harness their knowledge to create new forms of life. The 20th century witnessed the birth of molecular genetics–the field of biology focused on DNA and its role in heredity, genetic variation, and disease–and culminated in completion of the Human Genome Project, which decoded all 3 billion letters of the human genome. But until recently, the ability to go one step beyond reading DNA and rewrite DNA, directly in living organisms, remained elusive. Now, with a revolutionary technology called CRISPR that was discovered in a most unexpected way, we have entered a new era of precision genetic manipulation, in which diseases and cancers could be erased in patients, but so too could heritable genetic changes be engineered in human embryos. What will we choose to do with this awesome power?

The speaker

Samuel Sternberg is a protein-RNA biochemist and CRISPR expert. Dr. Sternberg’s doctoral research in the laboratory of Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator Dr. Jennifer Doudna focused on the mechanism of DNA targeting by RNA-guided bacterial immune systems (CRISPR—Cas9) and on the development of these systems for genome engineering applications.

Dr. Sternberg’s work has been published in the journals Nature, Science, and Cell, and has been covered in The New York TimesScience NewsThe Scientist, and various other news outlets. He is also the co-author, along with Jennifer Doudna, of A Crack in Creation, a popular science book about the discovery, development, and applications of CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology. In 2018, he started his own research laboratory at Columbia University as assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics.

Sam 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.

Admission tickets

The lecture is free and open to the public; however, e-tickets are required. E-ticket registration will open February 1, 2018.


Parking is free in Library parking lots and along the west side of Holmes Street between 51st and 52nd streets. The main entrance to the Library grounds is on Cherry Street. The Linda Hall Library is not affiliated with UMKC. Parking in all UMKC lots is by permit or meter. Doors open at 6:00 p.m.

Further reading

Jennifer Doudna and Sam Sternberg, A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017).


March 15
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
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Linda Hall Library


Linda Hall Library
5109 Cherry
Kansas City, 64110 United States
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For reservation questions, please email events@lindahall.org or call 816.926.8772 to leave a message.

Contact Eric Ward at 816.926.8753 for more information on these events.