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

The CRISPR/Cas system is a novel technology poised to revolutionise the biotechnology sector. It allows for editing, regulating and targeting genomes with extraordinary precision – and has already sparked first ethical debates about the boundaries of genetic manipulations. But what exactly is the CRISPR/Cas system? What sets it apart from previous technology in biology and biomedical research? And what are potential drawbacks of this novel technique? Together with experts from biology and bioethics, we discussed the biological and ethical implications of this fascinating new technique.

In the beginning Rolf Zeller, Full-Professor in Anatomy and Embryology at the Department of Biomedicine, University of Basel introduced the audience to the CRISPR technology and demonstrated how important it is in his daily work as a researcher. Afterwards a presentation by Priya Satalkar followed, whoholds Master degrees in Public Health, Medical Anthropology and Bioethics and received a PhD in Biomedical Ethics from the University of Basel. In her presentation she addresses the ethical challenges of cutting edge biotechnology like CRISPR. After two entertaining and insightful talks elucidating the opportunities and dangers of a genetic tool, the two speakers discussed this question from a Biomedical and Ethical point of view and answered to the question of the public.


The keynote speakers:

Prof. Dr. Rolf Zeller, Professor in Anatomy and Embryology at the Department of Biomedicine, University of Basel

«Getting CRISPR in genome editing is a great advance for life science research. As CRISPR can be used to alter the genomes of plants, animals and humans in an unprecedented manner, we need an open and informed discussion among all stakeholders and the general public.»


Dr. Priya Satalkar, Researcher at the Institute of Bio- and Medical Ethics, University of Basel

« Regulation of CRISPR should not be based on the fear of unknowns and dangers of human germ line editing alone. It should rather involve an open and transparent multi-stakeholder debate, setting research priorities in line with patients’ unmet treatment needs and continued scientific research to refine the technology while demonstrating adequate level of precaution.»

We would like to thank the Verein Forschung für Leben for organising this event with us.


Design of the Event: Servan Grüninger

Moderation: Akash Arasu

Apéro & Preparation of the Room: Fabienne Odermatt, Michaela Egli, Joel Luethi