What you'll learn

  • Understand CRISPR technology and its potential application in the biofuel, agriculture, and healthcare industries
  • Identify market opportunities and consider the ethical implications of genetic modification
  • Confidently communicate your organization’s potential biotech initiative to business decision-makers

Course description

CRISPR technology has the power to create change in essential industries, revolutionize food security, and treat genetic diseases. In fact, it’s already impacting industries such as biofuel, agriculture, and healthcare, with its global market growing continuously.

The CRISPR: Gene-editing Application online short course from Harvard's Office of the Vice Provost for Advances in Learning (VPAL) provides you with in-depth insight into what CRISPR is, and the possibilities it brings to genetic engineering. Through exploring real-world case studies, you’ll discover the applications of CRISPR in biotechnology and how it can assist the development of disease-resistant cultivars, improve food yields, and allow biofuels to become a viable alternative energy source. Over eight weeks, you’ll investigate the possibilities of curing inherited genetic disorders, treating infectious diseases, and advancing the fight against cancer. Walk away with industry knowledge about the ethical implications of gene-editing and a holistic understanding of CRISPR’s future. This is not a technical course and no lab skills or prior knowledge of genetic engineering is required to participate.

Course outline

  • Basic principles of molecular biology 
  • CRISPR and genetic engineering
  • Treating genetic diseases
  • Promoting resistance to infectious diseases
  • Combating cancer through research and treatment
  • Optimizing and fighting microorganisms: The food, health, and energy industries
  • Improving agriculture: Optimizing crops
  • The ethics of using CRISPR


  • Director of Undergraduate Research and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University
  • Postdoctoral Fellow and Teaching Assistant, Harvard University
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