Back to

SSN Seminar: Now that we can use CRISPR to change genomes, should we?

SSN Seminar: Now that we can use CRISPR to change genomes, should we?

Please join us for the first seminar in the ‘Healthy Futures’ seminar series hosted by the Deakin Science and Society Network (SSN).

Speaker: Prof Merlin Crossley, a leading Australian molecular biologist, and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic at UNSW.

Discussant: A/Prof Eben Kirksey (ADI/Princeton)


It has been said that humanity has progressed through three ages that involved learning to speak, to write and now to write the genetic code. The last age has only just begun but already CRISPR-gene editing is changing how people think about the future of human life and other lifeforms. The first publicised applications of CRISPR-mediated editing are related to efforts to cure inherited diseases via somatic gene therapy, affecting only subsets of human cells such as blood cells. But others have talked about germ-line gene therapy which would permanently alter the genetic code and would be carried on to future generations. Some even speculate about ‘genetic enhancement’ and ‘designer babies’. One researcher has modified human embryos with the intention of ensuring they are immune to HIV infection. There is also the question of modifying agricultural animals or plants and indeed ridding the world of pest species such as the mosquitoes that carry malaria or eliminating rats and mice. Are these things really possible and are they wise?


Looking to partner with Australia's leading social sciences 
and humanities research institute?

If you are interested in partnering or studying with us – we're keen to hear from you.