Mind & body, Events at Berkeley

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

By Robert Sanders


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.