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Hastings Center News

Watch The Hastings Center’s Symposium on Gene Editing at AAAS Annual Meeting

A symposium organized by The Hastings Center for the AAAS annual meeting took place on February 17. Click here to watch. “The Ethics of Gene Editing: Should Concerns Beyond Safety Matter in Science Policy?” discussed a major report released this week, which opens the door to the genetic modification of humans to create traits that can be inherited, but only if a set of criteria can be met. The symposium also addressed broad questions about the role that ethical issues should play in the assessment of new technologies.

Hastings Center president Mildred Solomon moderated the event, which included presentations by, and a roundtable discussion with, George Church, professor of genetics at Harvard University, who discussed new gene editing technologies, focusing on applications that are likely to raise “beyond safety” social and ethical questions; Josephine Johnston, director of research and a research scholar at The Hastings Center, who identified a wide range of social and ethical issues beyond safety, including how human gene editing might reshape the relationship between parents and children or influence respect for persons with disability; and Gary E. Marchant, a professor at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, who tackled the complex questions related to global governance of gene editing technologies.

“This session is part of The Hastings Center’s commitment to working with scientists to engage the public about how best to deploy transformative biomedical technologies,” says Solomon. “Gene editing and its potential application to the human germline is one example of the enormous new powers we humans now have.”

Johnston is an investigator on The Hastings Center’s project, Gene Editing and Human Flourishing, which focuses on the potential social and ethical implications of using gene editing methods in humans.