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Monday, June 24 • 1:30pm - 2:15pm
#131 SB: On the Soapbox: Designing Babies - Medical, Ethical, and Social Questions

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Component Type: Forum
Level: Intermediate
CE: ACPE 0.75 Knowledge UAN: 0286-0000-19-733-L04-P; CME 0.75; IACET 0.75; RN 0.75

New gene editing technology known as “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats” or CRISPR can alter the genes of cells, including embryos, changing the organism and its descendants, and raising critical ethical, legal, and social concerns. First discovered in 2014, scientists have rapidly used this technology in many species. This technique can also alter genes in microorganisms to create superbugs, and in 2016, the Pentagon listed it as a weapon of mass destruction. In 2018, a Chinese researcher stated that he had edited human embryos and transferred them into a womb, producing twin girls. Yet CRISPR can have ‘off-target’ effects, accidentally eliminating additional DNA, and genes may have multiple, unknown functions. In March 2019, scientists recommended a moratorium on transfer of altered embryos into wombs, and a registry of all CRISPR trials. Questions remain, however of how long such a moratorium should last, when it should end, who should decide, based on what criteria, whether all nations and researchers will agree, and what should be done if non-compliance occurs. Questions emerge of when CRISPR will be “safe enough” for initial research studies, and later for broader clinical use. The first human offspring may need to be followed through adulthood and the birth of their own children. This talk will explore these critical challenges, related to ethical principles of autonomy, risks, benefits and social justice, and how these questions might best be addressed.

Learning Objectives

Discuss the critical challenges related to ethical principles of autonomy, risks, benefits of gene editing technology.


Robert Klitzman, MD

avatar for Robert Klitzman

Robert Klitzman

Professor of Clinical Psychiatry; Director, Masters of Bioethics Program, Columbia University
Robert Klitzman, M.D., is a professor of psychiatry at the College of Physicians & Surgeons, & the Mailman School of Public Health, & the Director of the online and in-person Bioethics Masters & Certificate Programs at Columbia University. He has written over 130 scientific journal... Read More →

Monday June 24, 2019 1:30pm - 2:15pm PDT
Room 16AB San Diego Convention Center 111 W Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101 USA
  06: PreClin Dev-EarlyPhaseCR, Forum
  • Featured Topics Precision Medicine
  • Credit Type ACPE, CME, IACET, RN
  • Tags Forum