The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine

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The Academies have provided leadership in the past on controversial new areas of genetic research, such as recombinant DNA technology, human embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, and “gain-of-function” research. In keeping with these past efforts, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine have launched an initiative to inform decision-making related to recent advances in human gene-editing research. [Learn about related Academies’ studies and reports on genetic research]


Latest News

Webcast of ISSR Session on 'CRISPR/Cas and Human Germline Gene Editing: Possibilities and Perspectives' 

The recent NAS-NAM report Human Genome Editing: Science, Ethics, and Governance calls for inclusive public discussion and debate about the potential uses of technologies such as CRISPR/Cas9 to make changes to human DNA. Engaging diverse viewpoints will be particularly critical to debates about uses that would raise complex societal and ethical issues, such as the creation of heritable genetic changes (also referred to as germline genome editing). The report concludes that clinical trials using heritable genome editing might eventually be permitted but should only be conducted within a framework that meets 10 criteria, which include continued reassessment of both health and societal benefits and risks, with broad ongoing participation and input by the public.

Continued discussion of genome editing was part of the International Society of Science and Religion (ISSR) meeting, held in association with the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion in Boston. With support from the National Academy of Medicine's Kellogg Health of the Public Fund, the National Academies were pleased to support a webcast of the session “CRISPR/Cas and Human Germline Gene Editing: Possibilities and Perspectives,” on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017. 

Speakers were NAS/NAM committee chair Richard Hynes, committee member John H. Evans, and  Ronald Cole Turner and Laurie Zoloth. A video will be archived in the near future.

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About This Initiative

Powerful new gene-editing technologies, such as CRISPR-Cas9, hold great promise for advancing science and treating disease, but they also raise concerns and present complex challenges, particularly because of their potential to be used to make genetic changes that could be passed on to future generations, thereby modifying the human germline.

The National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine's human gene-editing initiative will provide researchers, clinicians, policymakers, and societies around the world with a comprehensive understanding of human gene editing to help inform decision making about this research and its application.

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