2.2 million euro KWF infrastructure grant for national CRISPR screening platform at ERIBA-UMCG, the Netherlands Cancer Institute, and Leiden University

20 December 2019

CRISPR genome engineering is an extremely powerful tool to make changes to the genome of cells. One very commonly used application of CRISPR is to inactivate genes to study their function in cells. While CRISPR gene knockout technology is mostly applied one gene at the time, CRISPR can also be applied in a much higher throughput fashion, inactivating large groups of genes, encompassing up to the complete genome, to search for genes that give a phenotype of interest. This allows for large-scale functional genetic screens to uncover which genes are involved in which biological processes. For instance, CRISPR screens can be used to identify genes that confer resistance to anticancer drugs, or genes that prevent the genome against DNA damage. While these screens are highly suitable to uncover new gene functions in a high throughput fashion, CRISPR screens are also technically challenging and require extensive expertise to setup, perform and analyse. To make CRISPR screens more readily accessible to cancer researchers in the Netherlands, Floris Foijer (ERIBA-UMCG), Roderick Beijersbergen (Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam) and Bob van de Water (Leiden University) received a 2.2 million euro grant from KWF-kankerbestrijding to establish a national infrastructure – ScreeninC – that will support CRISPR genome-wide functional screens. The ScreeninC team will support CRISPR screens for cancer researchers throughout the Netherlands, develop new CRISPR screening technologies and applications and establish a national network of CRISPR screen experts to expedite the use of CRISPR screens in The Netherlands. In Groningen, the CRISPR screening platform will be embedded at the iPSC/CRISPR centre at ERIBA, in Amsterdam at the Robotics and Screening Centre and in Leiden at the Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research.

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