Conferences & Symposia

Making the Cut: Promises and Challenges of Gene Editing

Making the Cut: Promises and Challenges of Gene Editing

Gene editing, a technology that enables scientists to change an organism's DNA, holds promise for the prevention and cure of such complex human diseases as cancer, heart disease, and sickle cell anemia.

The techniques used, including CRISPR, have generated a great deal of excitement for their efficiency and potential impact on human health, but they have also raised legal and ethical issues regarding germline and embryo manipulation, and many countries have banned such techniques due to these concerns.

The 2019 Radcliffe Institute science symposium will bring together leading international scientists, clinicians, and ethicists to explore case studies of particular gene therapies as well as the legal and bioethical implications of this research.

Free and open to the public.



9 AM
Welcome: Tomiko Brown-Nagin, dean, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study; Daniel P.S. Paul Professor of Constitutional Law, Harvard Law School; and professor of history, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University

Framing Remarks: Immaculata De Vivo, life sciences advisor, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study; professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School; and professor of epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Session 1: Science and Society

9:15 AM
Introduction by moderator: Charmaine Royal, associate professor of African & African American studies, biology, global health, and family medicine & community health, Duke University

Science keynote: Sylvain Moineau, Canada Research Chair in Bacteriophages, Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Bio-informatics, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Université Laval (Quebec, Canada)

Jonathan Kimmelman, James McGill Professor and director of the Biomedical Ethics Unit, Department of Social Studies of Medicine, McGill University

10:45 AM


Session 2: Case Studies: Heart Disease; Sickle Cell Anemia

11 AM
Introduction by moderator Omar Abudayyeh, fellow, McGovern Institute for Brain Research, MIT

Vence Bonham, senior advisor to the director on genomics and health disparities, National Human Genome Research Institute

Kiran Musunuru, Associate Professor of Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania


12:30 PM
Lunch break and student poster session (boxed lunches provided for all attendees)

Session 3: Case Studies: Genetic Engineering; Disability Rights

1:45 PM
Introduction by moderator Pilar Ossorio, professor of law and bioethics, University of Wisconsin Law School; inaugural bioethics scholar in residence, Morgridge Institute for Research

Matthew Porteus, professor of pediatrics (stem cell transplantation), Stanford University School of Medicine

Rosemarie Garland-Thomson RI ’12, professor of English and bioethics in the Department of English and codirector of the Emory Disability Studies Initiative, Emory University

3:15 PM


Session 4: Concluding Discussion

3:30 PM
Concluding discussion with session moderators (Royal, Abudayyeh, Ossorio), moderated by Sharon Begley, senior writer, science and discovery, STAT

Omar Abudayyeh

Pilar Ossorio

Charmaine Royal

4:15 PM
Closing Remarks: Immaculata De Vivo

4:25 PM
Public reception and student poster session