Good morning all,
I'm sure that you have heard recent news about gene editing that was performed on two human embryos by a Chinese scientist, in an attempt to introduce resistance to HIV infection. His efforts only came to light after the children were born, and have been roundly criticized as 'crossing the bridge too soon' - there seems to have been little or no oversight of his work, and most geneticists agree that it is too early for us to consider human genome editing, before we better understand the risks, and the opportunities, it poses.
But, calls for a moratorium on this type of work are not universal - some believe that the time is now to proceed, and that the potential risks of waiting are greater than the potential for doing harm. Others say that this is simply scientific progress - messy, risky, but in the end, advancing our knowledge and capabilities. That this debate is prominent in the science literature is a sign that this is truly the cutting-edge of research and its application. I'm sure that we haven't heard the last on this issue, and I also am sure that in your lifetimes there will be increasing opportunity to perform exactly this kind of genome editing.
Think about children you might have in the future - would you edit their genomes to improve their health? Or to make them smarter? Or kinder? What if you could only choose one of these characteristics? What if improving one caused reductions in another? There is still much to learn, and much to discuss...
Hope that you all have had a great Break, and are ready for the second half of our semester! I have been taking care of our planaria, and they are almost ready for your evaluation.
Travel safely back to campus - see you on Wednesday.