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In what MIT Tech Review has called the “biggest biotech discovery of the century,” CRISPR/Cas9 and related techniques promise easy-to-do, inexpensive, and highly precise genetic deletions, insertions, and functional manipulations to basic genetic processes across the full spectrum of living beings. This holds great promise for advances in agriculture, animal studies, and fundamental biomedical research, but raises difficult questions when applied to direct interventions in human life.
In this presentation Dr Hurlbut will discuss a range of possible applications of CRISPR in medical therapy and basic research, with a particular emphasis on the ethical dilemmas associated with germ line editing and research on human embryos. Acknowledging the inseparable relationship of these issues from advances in in vitro fertilization, stem cell research, cloning, synthetic biology, and research on human/animal chimeras, we will seek comprehensive principles that can, at once, open medical advance while upholding the intrinsic dignity of the human person.
Dr. William B. Hurlbut is a physician and Consulting Professor in the Department of Neurobiology at Stanford University Medical Center. His primary areas of interest involve the ethical issues associated with advancing biomedical technology, the biological basis of moral awareness, and studies in the integration of theology and philosophy of biology. In addition to teaching at Stanford, he has worked with NASA on projects in astrobiology and as a member of the Chemical and Biological Warfare working group at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation. From 2002-2009 Dr. Hurlbut served on the President's Council on Bioethics. He is the author of Altered Nuclear Transfer, a proposed technological solution to the moral controversy over embryonic stem cell research. He is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Stanford Center on Adolescence.