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Genomics for Faith workshop series

Faith leaders provide crucial guidance for the communities they lead, but may not have easy access to information about scientific topics or a neutral space to ask questions about science. Our Genomics for Faith workshop series, made possible by funding from the Wayfarer Foundation, provides an opportunity for faith leaders to engage directly with scientists to discuss scientific knowledge as well as its societal value and limitations. Our new workshop series, Genomics for Faith, invites members of every faith community to discuss how science informs and impacts our lives, and how to navigate the intersection of personal beliefs and values with public information. Please see below for information and registration for our upcoming workshop in this series.

Genomics for Faith

Our second workshop will be held 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 7, at the Bahá'í Center in Urbana. Researchers from the IGB will join community faith leaders for small group discussions that will explore applications and implications of genome editing in microbes, plants, and animals, including humans. Members of all faith communities are welcome to attend, and the discussion will be focused on how faith leaders and educators can use scientific resources to help support their efforts to provide guidance to their community. This and all series workshops are free, and lunch will be provided.

September 7 Workshop Agenda:

12:00 pm: Brief welcome and lunch in small groups

12:20 pm: Small group topic discussions

12:45 pm: Sharing consensus points with the larger group

1:00 pm: Q&A with IGB researchers

Guest Facilitators:

Lisa Ainsworth
Research Leader, USDA-ARS
Adjunct Professor, Plant Biology

Dr. Ainsworth leads the USDA ARS Global Change and Photosynthesis Research Unit. Her research addresses crop responses to global atmospheric change and potential solutions to mitigate climate change through agriculture.

Steven Burgess
Assistant Professor, Plant Biology

Dr. Burgess’ lab works to understand the genetic basis of plant growth with the aim of adapting crops to future climates. His focus is on using a systematic approach to improving photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert sunlight into sugar.

Thomas Gaj
Assistant Professor, Bioengineering
Dr. Gaj’s laboratory is focused on the development and implementation of precision genome-editing technologies for the treatment of progressive neurodegenerative diseases, such as ALS and Huntington’s disease.

Sara Pedron-Haba
Research Assistant Professor, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Carle Illinois School of Medicine

Dr. Pedron-Haba’s research focuses on the design and implementation of biomaterial platforms to investigate the mechanisms of brain cancer progression and more quickly evaluate potential therapies. Dr. Pedron-Haba is also committed to creating initiatives that achieve equity and broad participation of women in all areas of science, technology, and engineering.

Shannon Sirk
Assistant Professor, Bioengineering

Dr. Sirk’s research program stems from her study of the role that gut bacteria play in the activation of anti-cancer compounds found in vegetables. Her group focuses on engineering commensal microbes to produce and deliver biological therapeutics from within the body.

Register to attend our workshop on Thursday, September 7 here.