Genetics branding: CRISPR sounds like a breakfast bar and that may be confusing

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[D]espite massive hype in the science and general press, [the gene-editing tool CRISPR] probably remains unfamiliar or misunderstood to many people, especially those who don’t follow science news regularly. The reason might have to do with its terrible branding.

Coverage of CRISPR is frequent, thanks to its rapid evolution and application. But every article about CRISPR must start by laboriously explaining what it is, before moving on to the new news about it.

It’s name should bear a lot of the blame. CRISPR is an acronym. The unwieldy esotericism of “Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats” is obvious.


How many people have heard of—or been administered—a PET scan, CAT scan, or MRI, without knowing what those letters stand for or what they mean?

[But while] PET and CAT scans might justify their [acronyms with]…those terms’ association with gentle domestic animals…[but CRISPR] sounds like it names a breakfast cereal…In fact, there’s already a Snickers Crisper candy bar…and a German-language CRISPR explainer video starts by forgiving the viewer for thinking that it might be a cereal bar.

[P]erhaps the name for a gene editor should telegraph more gravitas than a trip to the vending machine.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: CRISPR Has a Terrible Name

For more background on the Genetic Literacy Project, read GLP on Wikipedia

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