Human Genome Editing Initiative

Powerful new gene-editing technologies, such as CRISPR-Cas9, hold great promise for advancing science and treating disease, but they also raise concerns and present complex challenges, particularly because of their potential to be used to make genetic changes that could be passed on to future generations, thereby modifying the human germline.

In keeping with the Academies’ past leadership on controversial new areas of genetic research, such as recombinant DNA technology, human embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, and “gain-of-function” research, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine’s Human Genome Editing Initiative will provide researchers, clinicians, policymakers, and societies around the world with a comprehensive understanding of human gene editing to help inform decision-making about this research and its application.

Background

The NAS and NAM launched this initiative in 2015 to inform decision-making related to recent advances in human genome-editing research. The inaugural activity, in December 2015, was the First International Summit on Human Gene Editing. The summit was followed by a consensus study on the scientific underpinnings of human genome-editing technologies, their potential use in biomedical research and medicine, and the clinical, ethical, legal, and social implications of their use. And to further the discussion, the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing was held Nov. 27-29, 2018, in Hong Kong.


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