Bioethics Blogs

The International Summit on Human Gene Editing: A Successful Production

I attended almost every minute of the Great CRISPR Summit of 2015[1] and came away thinking that it was a success in many ways.

First, it was not a circus. Before the event I often referred to it as the Great CRISPR Summit/Circus of 2015. I was wrong. It was a smoothly flowing event, with good organization, which did not surprise me, and an almost entirely self-controlled, on point, audience and speakers, which did. That’s the first success, which owes much to National Academies staffer Anne-Marie Mazza, who is one of the most competent, and enjoyable, people to work with I know.

The second success? The organizing committee, which spanned a wide range of both geography and opinion, came up with a consensus statement at the end, one that was both largely consistent with the proceedings and that made sense. It said four things:

First, basic and preclinical research on genome editing[2] should continue, even in the human germline.

Second, clinical use of genome editing in somatic cells – edits that cannot be passed on to the next generation – should be pursued.

Third, as to it clinical use in the human germline (to make babies):

“It would be irresponsible to proceed with any clinical use of germline editing unless and until (i) the relevant safety and efficacy issues have been resolved, based on appropriate understanding and balancing of risks, potential benefits, and alternatives, and (ii) there is broad societal consensus about the appropriateness of the proposed application.”

And, fourth, the Academies that sponsored the Summit (from the United States, the United Kingdom, and China) should organize and on-going, inclusive, and public forum to discuss possible future clinical uses of the technology.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.