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IBCS seminar 22nd May

‘Mammalian genome editing: science and ethics’

Dr Andy Greenfield MRC Harwell Institute Oxfordshire

Event details

CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing is now the go-to technology for the controlled manipulation of mammalian genomes. In research organisms, such as the mouse, it is revolutionising our ability to generate ever more sophisticated models of human disease. I will discuss genome editing in the mouse, especially as practised at Harwell, as a way of raising the topic of genome editing in humans and addressing the (topical) question: should we use genome editing to modify the inheritable characteristics of humans? This will require, amongst other things, a consideration of safety and efficacy and comparisons with other so-called germ line technologies that are currently lawful in the UK.

Andy has been a programme leader at the Medical Research Council’s Harwell Institute since 1996. His research focuses on the topic of how genes (and genomes) regulate embryonic/fetal development and how errors in developmental processes can result in disease. His main interest is in sex determination and differences of sex development (DSD). From 2009 to 2018, Andy was a member of the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA), the statutory UK regulator of IVF clinics and human embryo research. In 2014 and 2016, he chaired two expert panel assessments of the safety and efficacy of mitochondrial donation techniques (aka ‘three-person IVF’), paving the way to their legalisation in the UK. He is a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics and chaired its 2016 working group that examined ethical issues associated with genome editing applications in a variety of contexts. Andy’s PhD research, in mouse molecular genetics, was at Imperial College London. He also has an MA in philosophy from Birkbeck, University of London.