Sherlock Biosciences Launches The 221b Foundation to Address the COVID-19 Pandemic and Equity in STEM
Nonprofit Will Enable Access to Proprietary SHERLOCK™ CRISPR-based Technology to Support Third-party Development of COVID-19 Diagnostic Tests
Proceeds to Support Racial and Gender Diversity in STEM
Cambridge, Mass., September 15, 2020 – Sherlock Biosciences, an Engineering Biology company dedicated to making diagnostic testing better, faster and more affordable, today announced the formation of The 221b Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to addressing the global COVID-19 pandemic by enabling access to intellectual property associated with the company’s SHERLOCK™ CRISPR-based technology. Proceeds from any company or third-party sales of SHERLOCK CRISPR COVID-19 products will support racial and gender diversity in science, technology, engineering, and math—disciplines collectively known as STEM.
The 221b Foundation’s initial leadership includes board members Rahul Dhanda, co-founder, president and CEO of Sherlock Biosciences, and Mark Jefferson, assistant dean for community engagement and equity at Harvard Law School.
“COVID-19 has undoubtably had a devastating impact on the world. At the same time, there are organizations such as Sherlock that have benefitted by rapidly responding to address the pandemic, which has accelerated our company’s innovation and overall plans,” said Dhanda. “The 221b Foundation is our way of giving back, furthering our commitment to racial and gender diversity – especially within the Black Community – in STEM, while also sharing our progress with other organizations that can join in the fight against this global pandemic.”
The Foundation’s first partner in this effort is Scratch, the programming language and online community designed for young people ages 8-16. Used in more than 150 countries and available in more than 40 languages, Scratch is committed to helping young people think creatively, reason systematically and work collaboratively. Scratch, which was originally developed at MIT, will dedicate this funding to programs that benefit the Black, Latinx and Native American communities, along with young women and girls.
“We are excited to partner with The 221b Foundation to advance our efforts to further equity in computer science education, particularly supporting young people from communities that face systemic inequities and injustice,” said Champika Fernando, acting executive director of Scratch. “Our commitment to equity and justice throughout all of our work, from the design of our creative coding tools and online community to our outreach programs that support schools and educators, aligns perfectly with The 221b Foundation’s mission. We look forward to working together to further our shared goal of ensuring representation and equity in STEM throughout the world.”
“COVID-19 and diversity issues are major crises of our time, both of which are ravaging institutions throughout the world,” said Jefferson. “I am excited to help The 221b Foundation lead a proactive effort to alleviate the social and healthcare burden through scientific development, educational support and community outreach.”
SHERLOCK is a method for single molecule detection of nucleic acid targets and stands for Specific High Sensitivity Enzymatic Reporter unLOCKing. SHERLOCK utilizes CRISPR as a method for “smart amplicon detection” and can be adapted for use with existing diagnostic instruments, improving time to result due to the technology’s large multiplex capacity. When a specific sequence of DNA or RNA is present, the CRISPR enzyme is activated and, much like a pair of scissors, starts cutting nearby genetic material, releasing a fluorescent signal that indicates a positive result.
About The 221b Foundation
The 221b Foundation was founded with the dual mission to assist in the eradication of COVID-19, while supporting racial and gender diversity in STEM. By providing support and intellectual property that enables both non-profit and for-profit entities to develop CRISPR-based diagnostic testing, The 221b Foundation seeks to aid in the fight against the global COVID-19 pandemic while furthering access and diversity in STEM industries. Led by industry experts in the fields of diagnostic testing, STEM and diversity, The 221b Foundation envisions a world where advances in CRISPR technology fuel the innovations that will put an end to the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, please visit: 221bfoundation.org.
About Sherlock Biosciences
Sherlock Biosciences is dedicated to making molecular diagnostics better, faster and more affordable through Engineering Biology platforms. The company is developing applications of SHERLOCK™, a CRISPR-based method to detect and quantify specific genetic sequences, and INSPECTRTM, a Synthetic Biology-based molecular diagnostics platform that is instrument-free. SHERLOCK and INSPECTR can be used in virtually any setting without complex instrumentation, opening up a wide range of potential applications in areas including precision oncology, infection identification, food safety, at-home tests, and disease detection in the field. In May 2020, the company received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its Sherlock™ CRISPR SARS-CoV-2 kit, the first FDA-authorized use of CRISPR technology. For more information visit Sherlock.bio.
Katie Engleman, 1AB