Ovarian Club X and CoGEN in Asia

SpeakerS

Gerald SCHATTEN (USA)

Professor Schatten is Director of the Pittsburgh Development Center, Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, Cell Biology, Bioengineering and Director of the Division of Developmental and Regenerative Medicine. Dr. Schatten has directly trained >50 doctoral and postdoctoral fellows, along with several MD, MD-PhD and DVM trainees.  He is active in advanced research training and was the founding director of the FRONTIERS IN REPRODUCTION, the premier reproduction training vehicle for MD and PhDs.  He is currently President of UNESCO’s International Cell Research Organization.  With extensive funding from the National Institutes of Health , Dr. Schatten is the recipient of an NIH MERIT, and earlier a Research Career Development, Award, was honored by the Czech Academy of Sciences with their Purkinje Medal of Science, elected as a Delegate of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, a Mentor Awardee of the American Society for Cell Biology, Elected Australian Society for Reproductive Biology President’s Lecturer, awarded the Daniel Mazia Award from Stanford University and a Doctor Honoris Causa (Honorary Doctorate) from the University of Nova Gorica, presented by the President of the Republic of Slovenia, among other honors. His > 300 papers on stem cells, regeneration, fertilization, cell biology, development, infertility, assisted reproductive technologies, as well as strategies for rectifying past injustices in scientific careers, have appeared in premier journals including Nature and Science. Dr. Schatten is also an eloquent advocate for research in reproduction, development, regeneration and stem cells.

Abstract

Violating All Boundaries: Are the Genetic Experiments Justified?

In appreciation of the Ovarian Club X and CoGEN in Asia theme focusing on Testing the Boundaries: Genes, Genetic Tests and Application to Patients, this lecture will provoke questions and stimulate discussions as to whether some current and planned activities are not directed primarily on patient care but rather are:  VIOLATING ALL BOUNDARIES?

Recently publications attest to the prowess of physician-scientists and other scientists in manipulating human embryos with rapid, inexpensive procedures resulting in embryos which have never before existing on Earth.  This includes human embryos generated after genetic erasures of vital genes, embryos carrying devastating diseases in which the mutant genes appear to have been editing via a mysterious curative method, human embryos generated by cloning (somatic cell nuclear transfer) using the nucleus for cultured cells in which a blood mutation had been previously corrected, among other in vitro experiments.  Further, children have been born after mitochondrial transfer, justifiable to some due to maternal mitochondrial DNA mutations; and in other cases, seeming for trivial reasons.

The thorny question as to whether THESE GENETIC EXPERIMENTS ARE JUSTIFIED will be examined both dispassionately and passionately.  Among the greatest of challenges influencing clinicians and scientists studying human reproduction are the pressing questions of, perhaps not if, but when, will genetic modifications be introduced into human oocytes and spermatogenic cells, which will later be fertilized and destined for implantation.  Already human embryonic stem cells in culture are being modified.  The techniques for editing the human genome, alleged to have near perfect accuracy, are accelerating swiftly at stunning paces with and efficiency, simplicity, and at affordable costs.  These newest approaches will be reviewed, including CRISPR/Cas9.  Compelling medical justifications for trying to avoid devastating human diseases and disorders will be considered, as well as equally compelling scientific and societal concerns about genetically enhanced offspring.