Aug. 16-17 CRISPRcon to focus on societal issues of gene editing

UC Berkeley is hosting a two-day conference Aug. 16-17 that will bring together farmers, doctors, patients, environmentalists, consumers, nonprofits, community leaders and scientists to discuss potential applications of CRISPR technology, ranging from human and animal health to agriculture and conservation.

Called “CRISPRcon: Science, Society, and the Future of Gene Editing,” the conference is open to the public and will feature keynote talks by UC Berkeley’s Jennifer Doudna, co-inventor of CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing, and Greg Simon, the director of the Biden Cancer Initiative.

“Fulfilling the promise and the potential of CRISPR technology requires collaboration and thoughtful, open dialogue,” Doudna said. “CRISPRcon will provide a forum for the kind of honest discourse we need to examine what a future with CRISPR technology might look like, and what its continued advancement might require in terms of policy and oversight.”

Since the CRISPR-Cas9 technology was invented five years ago by a team led by Doudna and her colleague Emmanuel Charpentier, it has revolutionized biomedical and agricultural research while fueling angst about questionable applications, such as designer crops, farm animals and humans.

The Keystone Policy Center is facilitating this event to examine the social dimensions of CRISPR in medicine, food and the environment, as well as the role of regulation and social acceptance in determining the future of CRISPR. Through a series of keynotes, panels and interactive discussions, CRISPRcon will provide a forum to share ideas, ask and answer questions and explore the path forward.

In this 2015 video, Jennifer Doudna discusses the potentially huge benefits of CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing, as well as the possible abuses of the technology. Video by Roxanne Makasdjian and Stephen McNalley, UC Berkeley.

Among the topics to be discussed by the two dozen speakers are:

  • Envisioning 2050: Where might CRISPR take us – and do we want to go there?
  • CRISPR in the public eye: Societal perceptions of science
  • Genome surgery: CRISPR cures, community perceptions, and questions of equity
  • If we edit it, will we eat it?: Social acceptance of CRISPR in food
  • If it’s CRISPR, is it wild?: Considerations for CRISPR in conservation
  • Whether and how: Who determines the future of CRISPR?

To register for the conference, which will take place in Stanley Hall, visit the CRISPRcon website.

CRISPRcon website