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Dietram Scheufele contributes to NAS human gene editing report

Life sciences communication professor Dietram Scheufele served on an international committee that recently issued a human genome-editing technology report that lays out principles and recommendations for the U.S. government and governments around the globe.

Scheufele was a member of the 22-member National Academy of Sciences panel that compiled the report. UW-Madison law and bioethics professor R. Alta Charo co-chaired the committee.

“We want to bring in people even if they know little about the topic and get them to the point where they can engage in meaningful debate,” says Scheufele. Photo by Sevie Kenyon/UW-Madison CALS.

Other members of the committee – hailing from Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States – include scientists; experts in law, political science, and industry; and a patient advocate.

Human gene editing is not new, but with the emergence of technologies like CRISPR-Cas9 – a tool that allows scientists to add, delete and alter the genome with unprecedented speed and precision at lower cost – experts agreed in 2015 that a broad framework was needed to better understand the science and its implications for policy, ethics and society. The consensus committee was convened by the National Academies to complete the task.

“Some questions science can answer, some it cannot,” says Scheufele. “As a result, public debates about human gene editing need to be absolutely transparent and they need to be inclusive.”

This eCALS post was compiled based on this UW-Madison news site.