This morning, NAM President Dr. Victor J. Dzau gave opening remarks at the first meeting of the International Commission on the Clinical Use of Human Germline Genome Editing in Washington, D.C.

The commission has been convened by the U.S. National Academy of Medicine (NAM), the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS), and the Royal Society of the U.K., with the participation of science and medical academies around the world. They have been tasked with developing a framework for scientists, clinicians, and regulatory authorities to consider when assessing potential clinical applications of human germline genome editing. The framework will identify a number of scientific, medical, and ethical requirements that should be considered, and could inform the development of a potential pathway from research to clinical use — if society concludes that heritable human genome editing applications are acceptable.

“Ultimately, it is our goal for the commission to produce a scientifically sound report on the topic of germline genome editing; paving the way for international agreement on specific criteria and standards that have to be met before human germline editing would be deemed permissible; and for the development of an oversight structure to be adopted by individual countries that addresses issues such as ways to assess potential for off-target effects, monitor any clinical use, and bring forward concerns about human experiments,” said Dzau at the meeting. “Our institutions are committed to promoting and informing the international debate around germline genome editing. This commission will make an important contribution to that debate.”


About the Commission:

The commission is the latest action from the international science community to address issues around human genome editing. It follows the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing — held last November in Hong Kong by NAS, NAM, the Royal Society, and the Academy of Sciences of Hong Kong. The topic became a focus of global attention when a scientist from China revealed at the summit that as a result of his research, twins had been born whose embryonic genomes had been edited. The scientist was widely condemned by the global scientific community for violating long-standing scientific principles and ethical norms.

The U.S. National Academies and the Royal Society are the secretariat of the commission, which includes representatives from 10 nations. Kay Davies, professor of genetics at the MDUK Oxford Neuromuscular Centre at the University of Oxford, England, and Richard Lifton, president of the Rockefeller University in New York City, are co-chairs of the commission. The commission will hold one additional meeting and an international workshop, and will also issue a call for public input to inform their work. A final report from the commission is expected to be issued in the spring of 2020.


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