Biology Faculty Member, Drew Cressman will lead a discussion on Modifying Genomes: The Power and Pitfalls of Genetic Engineering
Since the discovery of the structure of DNA some sixty years ago, modern advances in molecular biology have enabled us to become ever more proficient in our ability to manipulate life at the level of an individual's genome, that most basic set of genetic instructions inherited from one's parents which defines the biological basis of ourselves. Early innovations in mixing and matching individual genes led to the promise of gene therapy and individual genetic testing. More recently, following the sequencing of the human genome a decade ago, new technologies have revolutionized our ability to manipulate entire genomes, opening up new avenues in our understanding of genes and cancer, human therapies including stem cell treatments and embryonic modification, and the development of synthetic organisms. This talk will explore our advances in genetic understanding and engineering over the past half century and consider both the promise of such technologies as well as potential ethical and social conflicts that may arise in the swiftly moving field of genomic biology.