The US National Academy of Science, the National Academy of Medicine, and counterparts in China and the UK have just announced the date for the much-awaited International Summit on Human Gene Editing. The gathering will occur in Washington DC on Dec 1-3, 2015. Details are limited at this point.
The unprecedented gathering is prompted by recent advances in gene editing techniques that allow for greater efficiency and precision, making it possible to edit genomic DNA in human embryos, something that a team of researchers in China announced earlier this year (see earlier post). The new techniques, usually referred to as CRISPR/Cas9, represent a major advance in the basic technology of genetic manipulation.
The focus of this gathering will be on ethics, regulatory oversight, and the need for a common international standard for research, particularly when the DNA of human embryos is being edited or when modifications might pass indefinitely to future generations. Many people will see this as having religious implications, and so it will be interesting to see whether religious perspectives are included in the agenda.