Vardit Ravitsky, PhD, is Associate Professor at the Bioethics Programs at the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine of the School of Public Health, University of Montreal. She is Director of the Ethics and Health Branch of the Center for Research in Ethics. Ravitsky is an elected Board member and Treasurer of the International Association of Bioethics (IAB). She is a member of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Standing Committee on Ethics and of the CIHR’s Institute Advisory Board on Research Excellence, Policy and Ethics. Ravitsky is member of the Quebec Reproduction Network (RQR) and the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society (CFAS). Previously, she was faculty at the School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
Prof. Ravitsky's research focuses on reproductive ethics and the ethics of genetic and genomics research. Her research interests in bioethics also include research ethics and health policy. She is particularly interested in the various ways in which cultural frameworks shape public debate and public policy in bioethics. Her research projects are funded by CIHR, FRQSC, SSHRC, and Genome Canada. She published over 100 articles, book chapters and commentaries on bioethical issues, and is lead-editor of "The Penn Center Guide to Bioethics".
Ethical, Social and Policy Challenges in Gene Editing
CRISPR/Cas9 was the 2015 Science breakthrough of the year. Since then, position statements on the policy implications of CRISPR for humans have multiplied and ethical issues raised. This talk will focus on some key distinctions and analyze their ethical, social and policy implications: 1/ gene editing in human somatic versus human germline cells; 2/ pre-clinical versus clinical research using germline gene editing; 3/ research with non-viable versus viable human embryos; 4/ germline gene editing versus mitochondrial replacement/transfer; 5/ gene editing for prevention of disease versus enhancement purposes.
The talk will review the key arguments presented in the literature regarding germline gene editing and mitochondrial transfer. It will discuss the great hopes associated with this technology in terms of treatment and even eradication of disease, as well as concerns associated with germline gene editing and the transmission of genetic modification to future generations. It will show the extensive focus on the need for public debate and societal acceptability of this emerging technology. It will discuss the safety and well-being of children created from genetically edited gametes or embryos and ethical issues associated with ensuring long-term follow up of such children. Finally, it will review key policy recommendations made in the past 3 years by international and national expert bodies such as the 2015 recommendations of the “International Summit on Human Gene Editing” and the 2017 report “Human Genome Editing: Science, Ethics and Governance” of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (USA).