Gene drives on the horizon: challenges in science, ethics, and governance
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[Note: The slide presentation and video are not available from this event.] Since 2015, researchers using the gene editing technique CRISPR-Cas9 have developed laboratory-based proofs-of-concept for gene drives in yeast, fruit flies, mosquitoes, and mice that can efficiently introduce specific gene traits throughout a population. Most gene drive research to date has focused on controlling or altering organisms such as mosquitoes that transmit infectious diseases to humans, but gene drives have also been proposed as a way to address other complex and persistent problems in public health, agriculture, and conservation. This presentation will examine the science of gene drive research in non-human organisms and related challenges in ethics and governance. Reflecting on the work of the National Academies of Sciences' committee for which she served as co-chair, Dr. Heitman will describe the fundamental science of gene drives and the ethical concerns they raise, the role of public engagement in risk assessment, and the recommendations for responsible practices in gene drive research that the Committee made in its June 2016 report, Gene Drives on the Horizon.