The National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine launched this initiative in 2015 to inform decision-making related to recent advances in human genome-editing research. The inaugural activity, in December 2015, was the First International Summit on Human Gene Editing. The summit was followed by a consensus study on the scientific underpinnings of human genome-editing technologies, their potential use in biomedical research and medicine, and the clinical, ethical, legal, and social implications of their use. To further the discussion, the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing was held in November 2018 in Hong Kong.
Currently, an international commission has been convened by the U.S. National Academy of Medicine (NAM), the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS), and the Royal Society of the U.K., with the participation of science and medical academies around the world, to develop a framework for scientists, clinicians, and regulatory authorities to consider when assessing potential clinical applications of human germline genome editing. The framework will identify a number of scientific, medical, and ethical requirements that should be considered, and could inform the development of a potential pathway from research to clinical use — if society concludes that heritable human genome editing applications are acceptable.
About This Initiative
Powerful new gene-editing technologies, such as CRISPR-Cas9, hold great promise for advancing science and treating disease, but they also raise concerns and present complex challenges, particularly because of their potential to be used to make genetic changes that could be passed on to future generations, thereby modifying the human germline.
In keeping with the Academies' past leadership on controversial new areas of genetic research, such as recombinant DNA technology, human embryonic stem cell research, human cloning, and “gain-of-function” research, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine's Human Genome Editing Initiative will provide researchers, clinicians, policymakers, and societies around the world with a comprehensive understanding of human gene editing to help inform decision-making about this research and its application.