The Genome Engineering lab (, led by Dr Kalpana Surendranath and Dr John Murphy, aims to develop young researchers in the knowledge necessary to investigate molecular basis of human diseases utilizing the recent Nobel prize-winning CRISPR technology. This technology offers multidisciplinary applications, including a better understanding of infectious and non-infectious diseases and drug discovery, improving crop production, fighting mosquitoes and the list is extensive. Life Sciences students entering our lab acquire skills to design specific features of this genetic tool to rewrite specific sections of 3.9 billion letters long genomic DNA that dictates human health and disease from birth to death.

Training opportunities in CRISPR, are still rare, expensive (a 3-day course offered elsewhere costs £2000) but highly sought after by employers. The research-intensive learning environment of the Genome Engineering lab continues to prepare future-ready students through active participation in the production of knowledge rather than passive recipients in the above-mentioned technology.

The projects are made possible after a donation from Westminster alumnus Raj Sitlani. Despite his successful career in finance, Raj was inspired by the passion of the Genome Engineering Laboratory team at an alumni event in 2018 and wanted to support the programme.

"If my contribution means that the students can 'stand out’ from the crowd and their peers at other institutions then it will be worth it. I can only encourage other alumni to help the Genome Engineering Laboratory. Collectively, we can create a buzz about the discoveries being unearthed by this small, dedicated team."

Raj Sitlani

Following the success of the research programme and Raj’s continued support, the programme has expended and Research Internship programme named “Discover to Recover” has been created.

Discover to Recover gives Level 6 Life Sciences students an internship opportunity to work with experts in Westminster’s School of Life Sciences’ Genome Engineering Laboratory as they create novel CRISPR- based diagnostic platforms for infectious and non-infectious diseases.

Jasikurat Kaur, who recently completed the Discover to Recover internship, said:

"My journey in the Genome Engineering Laboratory at University of Westminster has been an incredible one. The tremendous research experience and lab practice I gained during this internship has provided me with an amazing skill set to boost my journey as a capable researcher."

Due to the success of the Genome Engineering and Internship Programme; we are pleased to establish this fund for further support. Raj’s contribution has created a research programme which enables student to have a hands-on research experience; and with your support; we can make sure that more students are given the opportunity to stand out from the crowd to be scientists of the future regardless of their backgrounds.