Scientific Controversies No. 10: Genetic Manipulation

Scientific Controversies, or Sci Con, is a a series of conversations between scientists hosted by PW Director of Sciences Janna Levin.

Since the emergence of life, genes have ruthlessly exploited organisms as vehicles for their own survival. The creature dies, but the genes survive. Slowly over generations, the gene is duplicated with the notably random mutation occasionally amplified by natural selection. However, with recent scientific advances, we’re now able to intentionally modify genes in the span of a few hours. No longer hapless carriers at the genome’s mercy, we can control which genes survive. We are now able to eliminate diseases in a stroke, create the ideal baby or even design a stronger smarter species. But at what cost to the future of humanity?

Director of Sciences Janna Levin invites renowned geneticist George Church of Harvard and physician/biologist Siddhartha Mukherjee, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, to discuss the stunning implications and potential disasters of a brave new genetically modified world.

With Guests

George Church is the Robert Winthrop Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Health Sciences and Technology at Harvard and MIT, and author of Regenesis, How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves.

Siddhartha Mukherjee is an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University and staff physician at Columbia University Medical Center, and Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, and most recently The Gene: An Intimate History

This project was supported by Science Sandbox, a Simons Foundation initiative dedicated to engaging everyone with the process of science.