The MSOE Center for BioMolecular Modeling (CBM) has received a $1.35 million Science Education CRISPR moleculePartnership Award (SEPA) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This five-year grant will support the creation of a professional development program for high school science teachers entitled, The Science and Ethics of Genome Editing. The CBM will recruit three cohorts of 24 high school teachers from across the United States to participate in a two-year series of workshops.

The SEPA Program provides funding for innovative pre-kindergarten to grade 12 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and Informal Science Education (ISE) educational projects that create partnerships between biomedical/clinical researchers and teachers and schools, among others.

The goal of the CBM’s new program is to train teachers to go beyond the basic concepts of classical genetics (visible results from reproductive acts) and show students how the field has evolved into today’s era of molecular genetics (studying the structure and function of genes at a molecular level). CRISPR, the latest technological development in this field, has made it possible to edit the human genome.

In the first year of the program, teachers will attend a week-long summer course at MSOE to explore the technologies that allowed for the development of molecular genetics. In the second year, they will attend a workshop hosted by the CBM on the campus of either the University of California-Berkeley or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where major CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing research groups are at work. The teachers will have an opportunity to visit CRISPR research labs and meet with the scientists who are developing and applying this technology.

This NIH grant is the fourth in a series of SEPA awards to the CBM, an instructional materials development laboratory that specializes in the use of 3D printing technologies to create accurate physical models of proteins and other molecular structures. These models are one component of the innovative teaching tools created by the CBM for use in the professional development programs supported by NIH SEPA grants. Since 2001 more than 400 high school science teachers have trained with CBM staff to use these materials with their students.

Tim Herman, Ph.D., founder and director of the CBM, is principal investigator for the latest SEPA grant. Co-investigators include CBM program director Margaret Franzen, Ph.D.; former CBM program director Gina Vogt, M.S.; and CBM program director Diane Munzenmaier, Ph.D. Other key personnel in this project include Dina Newman, Ph.D. and Kate Wright, Ph.D. (Rochester Institute of Technology), who will document the impact of the program on teachers and their students; and noted bioethicist Alta Charo, J.D. (University of Wisconsin).

Milwaukee School of Engineering is an independent, non-profit university with about 2,900 students that was founded in 1903. MSOE offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering, business and nursing. The university has a national academic reputation; longstanding ties to business and industry; dedicated professors with real-world experience; a 97% placement rate; the highest ROI and average early and mid-career salaries of any Wisconsin university according to PayScale Inc.; and is highly ranked by organizations such as U.S. News and World Report, Forbes, Money, Wall Street Journal and The Princeton Review. MSOE graduates are well-rounded, technologically experienced and highly productive professionals and leaders.

SMART Team Program Director

Judy Baeten

Department: Center for BioMolecular Modeling
(414) 277-2361 Cudahy Campus Center: CC202
CBM-Program Director

Dr. Margaret Franzen

Department: Center for BioMolecular Modeling
(414) 277-2806 Cudahy Campus Center: CC202

Dr. Timothy Herman

Department: Center for BioMolecular Modeling
(414) 277-7529 Cudahy Campus Center: CC202
Dir. of Digital Media

Mark Hoelzer

Department: Center for BioMolecular Modeling
(414) 277-4554 Cudahy Campus Center: CC202
Program Director

Dr. Diane Munzenmaier

Department: Center for BioMolecular Modeling
(414) 277-2805 Cudahy Campus Center: CC202
CBM-Research Assistant

Michael Warden

Department: Center for BioMolecular Modeling