If you had the capacity to speed evolution by rewriting the genetic code of cells, would you do it? Designer plants — maybe? Supermen and women — maybe not? Biochemists have discovered a technique for editing DNA, called CRISPR. Medical researchers are using CRISPR now to cure mice with HIV and hemophilia. Geneticists are engineering pigs to make them suitable as human organ donors. Bill Gates is spending $75 million to endow a few Anopheles mosquitos, which spread malaria, with a sort of genetic time bomb
that could wipe out the species. A professor at Penn State has created blemish-resistant mushrooms by knocking out a gene that causes them to turn brown when handled. A team at Harvard plans to edit 1.5 million letters of elephant DNA to resurrect the woolly mammoth. What could be better? Anyone can edit DNA with a simple hobby kit selling for $150. In this study group, we will learn about the science behind CRISPR and consider the ethical consequences of having the power to direct evolution. Our text is A Crack
in Creation — Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution by Jennifer Doudna and Samuel
Sternberg, (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017). Join us!