Project Description

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  • Synthetic Biology

  • CRISPR Gene Editing

  • Genome Modification


  • Department of Biochemistry, MSB 307
    Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry
    Western University
    London, Ontario, Canada
    N6A 5C1



Google Scholar profile


Department of Biochemistry, Western University

I am a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at Western University. Trainees in my lab develop tools for gene editing and synthetic biology. We use evolutionary, genetic, structural and biochemical approaches to design, test and optimize CRISPR-based nucleases for precise and efficient gene editing. We apply our tools to better enable genome editing in eukaryotic algae, control of microbial populations, and treatment of human disease. I am also interested in the philosophical and ethical aspects of CRISPR gene editing as they apply to the environment and to human health.

The goal of my research program for the next 5-10 years is to develop a synthetic biology platform for the design and testing of personalized CRISPR nucleases and delivery systems for basic science and translational applications. I have a diverse training history encompassing molecular evolution, molecular biology, microbiology and biochemistry that instilled an appreciation for the diversity of biological systems that still informs my thinking today. In 2010 my research transitioned towards synthetic biology with the realization that the site-specific DNA endonucleases my lab studied (in- cluding CRISPR) could be engineered and adapted for gene-editing applications. Progress in how our CRISPR nucleases are being used for synthetic biology applications related to human health and viral diagnostics are described below, with publications from my trainees indicated. Over the next 5-10 years, I envision the incorporation of patient specific (or organism specific) information into the synthetic biology design, build, test cycle to develop targeted CRISPR reagents for applications related to personalized cancer therapeutics and microbiome modulation. A related area of research involves using our CRISPR tool to “humanize” algal glycosylation pathways for the overproduction of diagnostically or therapeutically relevant viral or human proteins.

  1. Ham, Dalton T, Tyler S. Browne, Pooja N Banglorewala, Tyler L. Wilson, Richard K. Michael,Gregory B Gloor, David R Edgell. A generalizable Cas9/sgRNA prediction model using machine learning with small high-quality datasets. Nature Communications (2023) In press.
  2. Kelly, Rachel D, Gursimran Parmar, Laila Bayat, Matthew ER Maitland, Gilles A Lajoie, David R Edgell, Caroline Schild-Poulter. Noncanonical functions of Ku may underlie essentiality in humancells. Scientific Reports (2023) 13:12162.
  3. Pellegrino, Gregory P, Tyler S. Browne, Keerthana Sharath, Khaleda A Bari, Sarah J Vancuren, Emma Allen-Vercoe, Gregory G. Gloor, David R. Edgell. Metabolically-targeted dCas9 expression in bacteria. Nucleic Acids Research (2023) 51:982-996.
  4. Ryan R Cochrane, Arina Shrestha, Mariana M Severo de Almeida, Michelle Agyare-Tabbi, Stephanie L Brumwell, Samir Hamadache, Jordyn S Meaney, Daniel P Nucifora, Henry Heng Say, Jehoshua Sharma, Maximillian PM Soltysiak, Cheryl Tong, Katherine Van Belois, Emma JL Walker, Marc-André Lachance, Gregory B Gloor, David R Edgell, Rebecca S Shapiro, Bogumil J Karas. Superior Conjugative Plasmids Delivered by Bacteria to Diverse Fungi. BioDesign Research (2022) Sep 1, 2022.
  5. Brumwell, Stephanie L, Katherine D Van Belois, Daniel J Giguere, David R Edgell, and Bogumil J Karas. Conjugation-based genome engineering in Deinococcus radiodurans. ACS Synthetic Biology 11.3 (2022), pp. 1068–1076.
  6. Slattery, Samuel S, Daniel J Giguere, Stuckless, Emily E, Arina Shrestha, Lee-Ann K Briere, Alexa Galbraith, Stephen Reaume, Boyko, Xenia, Henry H Say, Tyler S Browne, et al. Phosphate- regulated expression of the SARS-CoV-2 receptor-binding domain in the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum for pandemic diagnostics. Scientific Reports 12.1 (2022), pp. 1–15.
  7. Cochrane, Ryan R, Brumwell, Stephanie L, Arina Shrestha, Daniel J Giguere, Samir Hamadache, Gregory B Gloor, Edgell, David R, and Bogumil J Karas. (2020) Cloning of Thalassiosira pseudonana’s Mitochondrial Genome in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Escherichia coli. Biology 9.11 (2020), p. 358.
  8. Cochrane, Ryan R, Brumwell, Stephanie L, Maximillian PM Soltysiak, Samir Hamadache, Jennifer G Davis, Jiayi Wang, Samuel Q Tholl, Preetam Janakirama, Edgell, David R, and Bogumil J Karas. (2020) Rapid method for generating designer algal mitochondrial genomes. Algal Research (2020), p. 102014.
  9. Slattery, Samuel S, Wang, Helen, Daniel J Giguere, Kocsis, Csanad, Bradley L Urquhart, Bogumil J Karas, and Edgell, David R. (2020) Plasmid-based complementation of large deletions in Phaeodactylum tricornutum biosynthetic genes generated by Cas9 editing. Scientific Reports 10.1 (2020), pp. 1–12.

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