Having spent an entire year researching genome editing technologies, reading research articles, interviewing scientists, and watching videos, I have come to realize why this technology and its uses have become so controversial and highly debated. Speaking with Dr. Lunshof, a philosopher and ethicist working in Dr. George Church’s lab at Harvard Medical School, I was able to learn about the application of CRISPR in gene drives. Dr. Lunshof presented both the benefits as well as the risks of the technology; how it can both be used to rid mosquitoes of malaria, however, uncontainable to a particular area.
During my conversation with Dr. Schwob, I was presented with a completely new perspective: one that was focused on the cost of this technology as well as it efficiency. After talking with Dr. Schwob, I was better able to understand how this technology could lead to disparities in access.
I was also able to learn about Cas13, a new way of genome editing; one in which the enzyme cuts the RNA rather than DNA, the molecular blueprint of life, during my conversation with the Zhang lab.
In addition to the conversations described above, I also talked to other scientists who widened my perspective even more. I learned about the concern of off-target affects, the fears of “DIY CRISPR” as well as a multitude of other information. In addition to these conversation with scientists, I also read a lot of research articles about genome editing. I was able to learn a lot more about the exact science behind this technology as well as about what is being broadcast on the news and how that information affects those reading it.
After doing extensive research, I have come to the conclusion that the benefits outweigh the risks in terms of genome editing using CRISPR. CRISPR’s benefits are unparalleled; It can be used to cure a multitude of genetic diseases, rid mosquitoes of malaria, make plants and animals resistant to viral and bacterial infections, and even bring back animals from extinction . Because this technology is so controversial, however, I think it is imperative that a public dialogue ensues. In hopes of educating the public about this technology and its possibilities, I have created this website, dedicated to educating the public about genome editing.