THE SCIENCE AND ETHICS OF GENOME EDITING

Details

Date & Time 13 February 2018, 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
Venue Plenary 1 - Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre
1 Convention Centre Place
South Wharf

Description

The much publicised CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology is the holy grail in Genetics. Gene editing is providing the capacity to make any conceivable change to any gene in a wide variety of organisms.

It is being used around the world to understand the genetic basis of human diseases, to address agricultural and environmental challenges and in basic biological research. Most of these applications are not considered contentious, but what of the potential to modify human genomes or to eliminate pest species? How far should we go in the use of gene editing?
 
We are delighted to present two world leaders in the development and use of these technologies to discuss these issues. Professor Jennifer Doudna  from the University of California Berkeley, is a co-developer of CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology and has been at the forefront of discussions of the ethical use of it. She will be joined by Assistant Professor Kevin Esvelt  of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a leader in research on Gene Drive technology, including safeguards and risks.
 
Professor Jennifer Doudna and Assistant Professor Kevin Esvelt
 
Just weeks ago, scientists in the US attempted to edit genes inside the body of a man who suffers from Hunter Syndrome, an incurable disease. In February, CRISPR/Cas9 was used by the Francis Crick Institute in London to modify human embryos. As CRISPR could potentially be used to edit cells that give rise to sperm and eggs, ethical questions about humankind's ability to alter human heredity are being asked.
 
The tools of gene editing can also be rendered heritable so that a genetic change could be driven to spread throughout a population. The use of 'Gene Drive' technology has been discussed as a possible strategy for the control of mosquitos that vector deadly diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. But, are there risks in using Gene Drive technology? What limits and safeguards need to be considered in the use of this technology?
 
This is a must attend event for scientists and non-scientists alike, to be informed and to be involved in a dialogue on technologies that have the potential to shape our future. Registration is required.
 
Please  visit the event page to learn more about the topic and speakers, and to  register for the event.
 
If you are unable to attend, the lecture recording will be published on the  Convergence Science Network website.