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A Project for Our Time

September 30, 2020 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

The responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have been by turns dramatic and disconcerting, and, at times, draconian. I read about Steve Reiter’s deplorable experience and his new project in a BreakPoint commentary in July, and he was kind enough to speak with me by telephone on 24 July.

Steve’s beloved wife, Elizabeth, had diagnoses of lupus and pulmonary hypertension, among other difficulties. She had had a lengthy hospitalization in 2014, but had recovered. Steve attributes her recovery to excellent medical care and the 24/7 presence of her family. She had a Hickman line placed, and Steve ...read more

Human Flourishing in an Age of Gene Editing

December 2, 2019 • Posted in Blog

 

A Book Review By R. Henry Williams, M.D., F.A.C.P., M.A. (Ethics) Board Chairman, The Tennessee Center for Bioethics & Culture

Human Flourishing in an Age of Gene Editing Erik Parens and Josephine Johnston, Editors Oxford University Press, 2019

 

 

As we now live in a time when our genetic code can be altered, whether for better or worse, how should we think about what is best for ourselves? How can we as a human species and as individuals flourish? These are the questions posed in the new volume, Human Flourishing in an Age of Gene Editing. The essays here are interactive, frequently referencing one another, as the ...read more

A Moratorium on Heritable Human Genome Editing: Illusory or Real?

May 31, 2019 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

In March, 2019, Nature published a commentary penned by Eric Lander, Françoise Baylis, Feng Zhang, Emmanuelle Charpentier, and Paul Berg, and signed by 13 other notables. The name of the commentary is “Adopt a moratorium on heritable genome editing.” This document requires analysis.

First, some definitions are needed. A moratorium is defined as a “suspension of activity,” or “an authorized period of delay or waiting.” Heritable means “capable of being passed from one generation to the next.” Additionally, clinical can refer to a “scientifically detached” attitude or “the observation and treatment of patients directly.” Each of ...read more

A Book for (Y)our Time – A Review

March 28, 2019 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

Reading Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Gene: An Intimate History (NY, NY: Scribner, 2016; paperback, 2017) is to take a 150+ year print journey with an English-speaking physician and scientist, who is also a renaissance man. Mukherjee, an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2011 for his non-fiction work, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. I have not read that earlier work, but have spent time delving into The Gene.

The Gene: An Intimate History begins with the author’s 2012 trip to Calcutta with his father to visit a ...read more

What Say You?

December 18, 2018 • Posted in Blog

Update: See the bottom of this post for the National Institutes of Health’s response to our letter. 

An Open Letter to Dr. Francis S. Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. Director National Institutes of Health 9000 Rockville Pike Bethesda, Maryland 20892 [email protected]

17 December 2018

Dear Dr. Collins:

The Tennessee Center for Bioethics & Culture lauds the position of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as evidenced by your concluding statement of 28 November 2018: “NIH does not support the use of gene-editing technologies in human embryos.” As embryonic humans represent the most vulnerable amongst our species, the ...read more

Crossing a Bright Red Line: Human Embryo Editing

November 30, 2018 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

On Monday of this week, He Jiankui of Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China, shocked the scientific world prior to the beginning of a conference on gene editing. Dr. He announced a first: that he had edited the genes of embryos for seven couples undergoing fertility treatments, and that one pregnancy has resulted to date. It should be noted that there is no corroboration of this claim currently: it is an announcement; no scientific paper has been published about it.

Some of the specific claims, published in The Guardian, are as follows:

All of ...read more

First Human Embryos Edited in U.S.: A Bright Red Line Is Crossed

July 28, 2017 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

“Sooner than we expected”: A friend – a scientist steeped in the bioethics realm – wrote to me of her surprise at the announcement of the first embryonic humans edited in the United States. Steve Connor, writing in the MIT Technology Review, reported the work on 26 July 2017.  Doubtless, the publication of the work in a scientific journal will follow.

The article, “First human embryos edited in U.S.” by Steve Connor, describes the process thusly: “A person familiar with the research says ‘many tens’ of human IVF embryos were created for the experiment using the ...read more

CRISPR — Who’s in Charge? (Part III)

October 29, 2016 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

This is part III of our report. View part I, part II, or part IV.

The ability to edit genes using CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) has been in the news for more than a year. A committee has been appointed to advise our government regarding the editing of genes, particularly editing the genes of the human embryo.

Who are the members of that committee? What are their views? The Tennessee Center for Bioethics & Culture has been working to gather information for you, our readers.

Here is a brief look at some of the writings and organizational ...read more

CRISPR — Who’s in Charge? (Part II)

September 30, 2016 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

This is part II of our report. View part I, part III, or part IV.

The ability to edit genes using CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) has been in the news for more than a year. A committee has been appointed to advise our government regarding the editing of genes, particularly editing the genes of the human embryo.

Who are the members of that committee? What are their views? The Tennessee Center for Bioethics & Culture has been working to gather information for you, our readers.

Here is a brief look at some of the writings and organizational ...read more

CRISPR — Who’s in Charge? (Part I)

August 31, 2016 • Posted in Blog

D. Joy Riley, M.D., M.A. Executive Director

This is part I of our report. View part II, part III, or part IV.

The ability to edit genes using CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) has been in the news for more than a year. A committee has been appointed to advise our government regarding the editing of genes, particularly editing the genes of the human embryo.

Who are the members of that committee? What are their views? The Tennessee Center for Bioethics & Culture has been working to gather information for you, our readers. This is part I of our report.

On 16 June 2015, ...read more