The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine

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The National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine launched this initiative in 2015 to inform decision-making related to recent advances in human genome-editing research. The inaugural activity, in December 2015, was the First International Summit on Human Gene Editing. The summit was followed by a consensus study on the scientific underpinnings of human genome-editing technologies, their potential use in biomedical research and medicine, and the clinical, ethical, legal, and social implications of their use.

Read the proceedings of the summit, the consensus study, and learn about related Academies’ studies and reports on genetic research.

Brief Summary of Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing Now Available

The science of human genome editing has advanced rapidly since the first international summit was held in 2015 in Washington, D.C. An explosion of new research is employing CRISPR/Cas9 and other powerful, precise editing tools, and clinical trials are planned for applications to treat diseases. However, many questions remain unanswered concerning the science, application, ethics, and governance of human genome editing. Of particular concern is the possibility of genome editing that might lead to heritable alterations, and applications for purposes other than to treat diseases or disabilities. 

To further the discussion, more than 500 researchers, policymakers, ethicists, patient group representatives, and others from around the world attended the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing, held Nov. 27-29, 2018, in Hong Kong. Participants discussed topics such as the potential benefits and risks of human genome editing, ethical and cultural perspectives, regulatory and policy considerations, and public engagement and outreach efforts. The summit was co-convened by the Academy of Sciences of Hong Kong, the Royal Society of the United Kingdom, and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. National Academy of Medicine.

Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing: Continuing the Global Discussion, a new publication from the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, provides a brief summary of the second summit's presentations and discussions.


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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.

In keeping with the Academies' past leadership on controversial new areas of genetic research, such as recombinant DNA technology, human embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, and “gain-of-function” research, 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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