Hot Topics: Genetics

Blog Posts (106)

March 21, 2017

The 14 day rule – A brief update

In early December, this blog commented upon the 7 December 2016 conference at University College London, which debated rethinking the ethics whether or not to increase the UK’s restriction on experimentation on human embryos from 14 to 28 days. One result of that conference is that the Progress Educational Trust (the sponsor of the original conference) has since submitted a request to the House of... // Read More »
March 19, 2017

The Semantics of Therapy, Part II

A previous blog post of “The Semantics of Therapy” posed three questions about the human genome being a “patient” to be treated. One reader found the post “provocative and disturbing” and called for further explanation and discussion of the questions posed. That will take some time and several postings. The first of the questions to be considered is this: If the “patient” is a genome, to whom... // Read More »
March 19, 2017

The Semantics of Therapy, Part II

A previous blog post of “The Semantics of Therapy” posed three questions about the human genome being a “patient” to be treated. One reader found the post “provocative and disturbing” and called for further explanation and discussion of the questions posed. That will take some time and several postings. The first of the questions to be considered is this: If the “patient” is a genome, to whom... // Read More »
March 17, 2017

Ethics of the Trump Budget: The Social Contract is Dead

by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.

President Trump released his blueprint for a 2018 federal budget. From an ethical standpoint, the President seems to operates from a Hobbesian standpoint—life is nasty, brutish and short.…

March 15, 2017

How private should genetic information be?

One of the issues regarding genetic testing is the privacy of that information. It has been recognized for some time that employers and others could use genetic information in ways that would cause problems for those whose genetic information they were able to access. Because of that the federal Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibit employers from asking... // Read More »
March 10, 2017

Ethics & Society Newsfeed: March 10, 2017

Politics White House Slammed by Federal Ethics Chief for Not Disciplining Kellyanne Conway U.S. government’s official ethics watchdog blasted White House for not taking disciplinary action against senior counselor Kellyanne Conway for promoting Ivanka Trump’s products on TV Trump’s Ethics Order Seen as Boost for Shadow Lobbying President Trump’s speech to the joint session of Congress … More Ethics & Society Newsfeed: March 10, 2017
March 8, 2017

The difficult way to eradicate a genetic mutation

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has a section in each issue titled “A Piece of My Mind” in which one of the physician readers writes a personal essay. The February 28, 2017 issue includes an essay titled “Eradicating a Genetic Mutation” by Maryl Goldberg Sackheim, an OB/GYN physician, who gives a personal account of her choice to use IVF and PGD to... // Read More »
March 3, 2017

Heritable human gene editing and the public

The recent report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine includes a chapter dedicated to public engagement.  Scientists leading gene editing efforts have actively sought broader public engagement, and point out that they desire this input, including from people who disagree with them about it.  They may push to win any arguments, but for the most part they don’t seem to be hiding.... // Read More »
March 1, 2017

The Gift of Finitude

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about finitude. About limits. Incompleteness. Even failure. Like the friend of a friend who is dying and has just been admitted to hospice, whose young teenaged daughter is facing the prospect of a life without her mother. Like the colleague who is grieving the loss of both a spouse and a parent within a month of each other. Like... // Read More »
February 23, 2017

Still further on heritable human gene editing

I want to spend a little time—several consecutive posts—on the subject of heritable gene editing in humans, and on the recent report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine on it.  The topic bears more attention than a single blog post, written in a bit of a rush, based on only the initial release of the report, pending a deeper dive.  That is... // Read More »

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Published Articles (56)

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 17 Issue 1 - Jan 2017

A Framework for Unrestricted Prenatal Whole-Genome Sequencing: Respecting and Enhancing the Autonomy of Prospective Parents Stephanie C. Chen & David T. Wasserman

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 17 Issue 1 - Jan 2017

Modern Pregnancies and (Im)Perfect Babies Stephanie A. Kraft

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 16 Issue 12 - Dec 2016

Does Lack of “Genetic-Relative Family Health History” Represent a Potentially Avoidable Health Disparity for Adoptees? Thomas May, Kimberly A. Strong, Kaija L. Zusevics, Jessica Jeruzal, Michael H. Farrell, Alison LaPean Kirschner, Arthur R. Derse, James P. Evans & Harold D. Grotevant

AJOB Primary Research: Volume 7 Issue 3 - Jul 2016

Concerns about genetic testing for schizophrenia among young adults at clinical high risk for psychosis Ryan E. Lawrence, Phoebe Friesen, Gary Brucato, Ragy R. Girgis & Lisa Dixon

AJOB Primary Research: Volume 7 Issue 3 - Jul 2016

Clarifying ethical responsibilities in pediatric biobanking Merle Spriggs & Craig L. Fry

AJOB Primary Research: Volume 7 Issue 3 - Jul 2016

Lay attitudes toward trust, uncertainty, and the return of pediatric research results in biobanking John Lynch, Janelle Hines, Sarah Theodore & Monica Mitchell

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 15 Issue 12 - Dec 2015

Germline Manipulation and Our Future Worlds John Harris

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 15 Issue 12 - Dec 2015

Human Germline CRISPR-Cas Modification: Toward a Regulatory Framework Niklaus H. Evitt, Shamik Mascharak & Russ B. Altman

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 15 Issue 12 - Dec 2015

Engineering Values Into Genetic Engineering: A Proposed Analytic Framework for Scientific Social Responsibility Pamela L. Sankar & Mildred K. Cho

American Journal of Bioethics: Volume 15 Issue 12 - Dec 2015

CRISPR Critters and CRISPR Cracks R. Alta Charo & Henry T. Greely

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News (881)

March 14, 2017 9:00 am

Scientists Closer To Creating A Fully Synthetic Yeast Genome (NPR)

Scientists have taken another important step toward creating different types of synthetic life in the laboratory. An international research consortium reports Thursday that it has figured out an efficient method for synthesizing a substantial part of the genetic code of yeast.

March 13, 2017 9:00 am

Employees who decline genetic testing could face penalties under proposed bill (Washington Post)

Employers could impose hefty penalties on employees who decline to participate in genetic testing as part of workplace wellness programs if a bill approved by a U.S. House committee this week becomes law.

March 2, 2017 9:00 am

An epigenetics gold rush: new controls for gene expression (Nature)

Over the past few years, researchers have identified some of the machinery involved in regulating these marks. Each requires a writer to place it, an eraser to remove it and a reader to interpret it. As the identities of these proteins emerged, scientists have come to understand that m6A affects not only RNA splicing, but also translation and RNA stability.

February 28, 2017 9:00 am

Biologists propose to sequence the DNA of all life on Earth (Science)

Yesterday, at a meeting here organized by the Smithsonian Initiative on Biodiversity Genomics and the Shenzhen, China–based sequencing powerhouse BGI, a small group of researchers upped the ante even more, announcing their intent to, eventually, sequence “all life on Earth.”

February 24, 2017 9:00 am

The Birth of CRISPR Inc (Science)

As the science grew even more compelling and venture capital (VC) beckoned, the jockeying to start CRISPR companies became intense. The research community was rent apart by concerns about intellectual property, academic credit, Nobel Prize dreams, geography, media coverage, egos, personal profit, and loyalty. A billion dollars poured into what might be called CRISPR Inc.

February 23, 2017 9:00 am

How Silicon Valley Is Trying to Hack Its Way Into a Longer Life (Time)

Rather than wait years for treatments to be approved by federal officials, many of them are testing ways to modify human biology that fall somewhere on the spectrum between science and entrepreneurialism. It’s called biohacking, and it’s one of the biggest things happening in the Bay Area.

February 21, 2017 9:00 am

Harvard and M.I.T. Scientists Win Gene-Editing Patent Fight (The New York Times)

The Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass., will retain potentially lucrative rights to a powerful gene-editing technique that could lead to major advances in medicine and agriculture, the federal Patent and Trademark Office ruled on Wednesday.

February 2, 2017 9:00 am

Gene drives thwarted by emergence of resistant organisms (Nature)

By studying the insects under more-natural conditions, scientists hope to better understand how to eradicate them — and malaria — using an emerging genetic-engineering technology called gene drives. The technique can quickly disseminate genetic modifications in wild populations through an organism’s offspring, prompting some activists to call for it to be shelved. Yet gene drives might not be as effective as activists think. Recent research has identified a major hurdle to using them to eliminate diseases and vanquish invasive pests: evolution.

January 19, 2017 9:00 am

Pharmacological rescue of diabetic skeletal stem cell niches (Science)

Stem cells: The key to boosting bone healing in diabetes

January 18, 2017 9:00 am

Rewriting The Code of Life (The New Yorker)

Until crispr came along, biologists lacked the tools to force specific genetic changes across an entire population. But the system, which is essentially a molecular scalpel, makes it possible to alter or delete any sequence in a genome of billions of nucleotides. By placing it in an organism’s DNA, scientists can insure that the new gene will copy itself in every successive generation.

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