CRISPR – Genetic Engineering 2.0

CRISPR. What sounds like your everyday breakfast cereal is in fact a groundbreaking gene-editing tool that is taking the world of biotechnology by storm. Some are already dreaming of the complete eradication of diseases, others fear its abuse for more nefarious purposes. We discussed the potential and perils of CRISPR together with one of its co-discoverers, Martin Jinek, and the bioethicist Effy Vayena.

What can and should we (not) do with this powerful genetic tool?

In 2013, researchers announced a fast and precise new method for editing the genetic code – much more powerful than all other genetic tools so far known. This genetic method has caused a massive hype in genetic research, but also sparked controversy over the potential applications in humans.

Researchers and ethicists both agree that an open discussion about the risks and benefits of this powerful new technique is needed – so do we.

On December 3rd, Martin Jinek, Professor in Biochemistry at the University of Zurich and co-inventor of CRISPR, as well as Effy Vayena, bioethicist and Professor of Health Policy at the University of Zurich, joined us to get this crucial debate off the ground – in front of over 350 students, scientists und members of the public.

We are thrilled that so many people took interest in this topic and we will continue to promote a balanced, fact-oriented and open debate.


The keynote speakers:

Prof. Dr. Martin Jinek, University of Zurich

«We need a global debate. And because of the potential mass use of this technology, it really is key that not just scientists but also other players have something to say about this as well.»

Prof. Dr. Effy Vayena, University of Zurich

«Caution is prudent, but so is being imaginative. Not only scientifically, but also morally: Which values do we really want to negotiate and how do we want to leave them?»


We want to thank all members of reatch and VeBiS who made this event happen.

Main Organisation
Servan Grüninger (reatch)
Christina Gantner (VeBiS)

Akash Arasu (reatch)

Martin Roszkowski (Lead, reatch)
Valeria Eckhardt (reatch)
Sara von Salis (reatch)
Lukas Studer (reatch)
Michael Kümin (reatch)
Irina Elena Lazar Contes (reatch)
Niharika Gaur (reatch)
Max Frank (reatch)
Julia Bollhalder (VeBiS)
Michel Schmidlin (VeBiS)
Shiau Léchot (VeBiS)

Promotion & Media
Joel Lüthi (Lead, reatch)
Thalia Kupferschmied (reatch)
Lukas Studer (reatch)
Sara von Salis (reatch)
Sarah Zurmühle (reatch)
Carlos Mora (reatch)
David Vogel (VeBiS)
Alexandra Waltenspühl (VeBiS)

Photography und Film
Joel Lüthi (Lead, reatch)
Michael Kümin

Also, we would like to thank the University of Zurich for the hospitality and the technical support as well as Nora Gamper and the Weiersmüller, Bosshard, Grüninger AG für visuelle Kommunikation for the illustration and the design of our flyers.