Creative Research Medal
Douglas Menke, professor in the Department of Genetics and director of the Developmental Biology Alliance, and his group have produced the first gene-edited reptile, an albino Anolis lizard. With more than 10,000 species of reptiles, scientists have been searching high and low for techniques to explore the rich but untapped biology of reptilian gene function. CRISPR gene-editing technology has been successfully used in non-reptilian vertebrates, and now Menke’s team has developed an effective method to deliver CRISPR gene-editing components into unfertilized lizard eggs while they are still maturing inside the mother. The new technology could be customized for use in many reptile species or other egg-laying vertebrates such as poultry. The world’s first gene-edited reptile is a milestone in reptilian genetics, opening the door to discovering vast and uncharted areas of animal biology.