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Designer Genes: Fashioning our Biological Future

Friday, May 30, 2014
8:00 pm - 9:30 pm

Perhaps the most complicated code in the universe is the one sitting inside our cells, written in DNA. More than three billion letters make up the human genome, giving geneticists plenty to explore…and explore they have. But even as gene therapy, DNA analysis, and genetically modified organisms enter the mainstream—and inspire national debate—our capacity to manipulate life continues to deepen. How far should we go? Are there hidden downsides to rewriting our DNA? Can we hijack evolution and put an end to genetic diseases, or engineer the next generation to have advantageous traits? And who gets to decide?

This program is part of the Big Ideas Series, made possible with support from the John Templeton Foundation.


Emily SenayPhysician Journalist

Emily Senay is a physician, medical and public health educator, broadcast journalist, and author. She is an assistant professor of Medicine in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and a clinician in the World Trade Center Health Program in New York City.

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George ChurchGeneticist

George Church is professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and director of PersonalGenomes.org, providing the world’s only open-access information on human Genomic, Environmental, and Trait data (GET). His 1984 Harvard Ph.D. included the first methods for direct genome sequencing, molecular multiplexing, and barcoding.

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Nita A. FarahanyBioethicist, Law Professor

Nita A. Farahany is a Professor of Law & Philosophy at Duke University and the director of Duke Science & Society. In 2010, she was appointed by President Obama to the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, and continues to serve as a member.

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Jamie A. GrifoFertility Specialist

Jamie Grifo is the program director of the NYU Fertility Center. He is also director of reproductive endocrinology and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the NYU School of Medicine. As co-director of the NYU Egg Freezing Division, he has helped lead one of the largest and most successful egg preservation programs.

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Sheldon KrimskyPhilosopher of Science, Bioethicist

Sheldon Krimsky is a professor of Urban & Environmental Policy & Planning as well as adjunct professor of Public Health and Community Medicine at Tufts University. From 2012 to 2014, he is also a professor of philosophy at Brooklyn College, CUNY.

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Paula AmatoReproductive Endocrinologist

Paula Amato is an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Oregon Health and Science University who specializes in reproductive endocrinology and infertility. Some of her research explores the ways to reprogram aged, differentiated cells into pluripotent cells that can give rise to any cell type.

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