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The groundbreaking discovery of the gene-editing tool known as CRISPR allows scientists to precisely, efficiently, and cheaply modify the human genome. This may provide us with the power to cure disease and to unlock the secrets of early human development. It might, in the future, allow us to modify humans in directions that we now only dream of, to make us smarter, stronger and better than healthy—giving us the power to control the direction of evolution. But who will benefit from this new power? Who will be left behind? How the human genome is modified affects all of humanity, present and future generations. How ought we to regulate this power? Who ought to regulate it? These and other questions will be the focus of a panel discussion with bioethicists Françoise Baylis, Julian Savulescu, and biochemist David Edgell.

This event was followed by a public lecture on human bioenhancement. See Julian Savulescu: The Science and Ethics of Human Enhancement for full event details.


Françoise BaylisDavid EdgellJulian SavulescuAnthony Skelton

  • Françoise Baylis is a philosopher whose innovative work in bioethics, at the intersection of policy and practice, has stretched the very boundaries of the field. Baylis holds the Canada Research Chair in Bioethics and Philosophy. Her extensive publication record spans many topics, including research involving children, the role of bioethics consultants, women’s health, human embryo research, and novel genetic technologies. Her work challenges readers to think broadly and deeply about the direction of health, science and biotechnology.
  • David Edgell, is the Acting Chair in the Department of Biochemistry at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Western University. Edgell maintains an active research program in the areas of genome engineering and synthetic biology. Specifically, his laboratory studies mobile genetic elements and applied areas such as designing artificial nucleases for genome engineering. His research is supported by grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and Ontario Genomics.
  • Julian Savulescu is the director of The Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford, and the Uehiro Chair in Practical Ethics. His areas of research include: the ethics of genetics, especially predictive genetic testing, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, prenatal testing, behavioural genetics, genetic enhancement, gene therapy. Research ethics, especially ethics of embryo research, including embryonic stem cell research. New forms of reproduction, including cloning and assisted reproduction. Medical ethics, including end of life decision-making, resource allocation, consent, confidentiality, decision-making involving incompetent people, and other areas. Sports ethics. The analytic philosophical basis of practical ethics. Julian is a founder member of the Hinxton Group.
  • Panel Moderator – Anthony Skelton is an associate professor in the Department of Philosophy at Western University, and is the associate director of the Rotman Institute of Philosophy. His research focuses on issues in moral philosophy and practical ethics. He received his PhD in philosophy from the University of Toronto in 2005, where he wrote a dissertation under the direction of Wayne Sumner. In 2004-2005 he was Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Post-doctoral Fellow in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Michigan. In 2012-13, he was Visiting Scholar at the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics and a Plumer Visiting Research Fellow at St. Anne’s College, Oxford University. In 2015, he was a visiting researcher at Fondation Broucher. He received the University Students’ Council Teaching Honour Roll Certificate in 2008, 2011, 2012, 2014, and 2016. He is an Associate Editor of the Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy.



London Public Library logoThis event is co-sponsored with the London Public Library.


Photo credit: dawarwickphotography – license

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