Seminar Series – Incidental Enhancements: The Challenge of Prevention for Human Gene Editing Governance
615 N. Wolfe Street
Incidental Enhancements: The Challenge of Prevention for Human Gene Editing Governance
Eric T. Juengst, PhD
Department of Social Medicine and the Department of Genetics
Director, UNC Center for Bioethics
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
One popular ethical boundary for human gene editing research is the line between developing new treatments for disease and developing ways to enhance human traits for social purposes. But what about interventions intended to strengthen human capacities to resist disease, in the name of prevention?
Recent policy statements have been bundling prevention with treatment as legitimate goals for human gene editing research. But prevention is a notoriously elastic concept, and could cover a number of human design improvements that raise the same moral concerns triggered by the prospect of “genetic enhancement”. If avoiding those concerns is important to those engaged in the international efforts to develop governance for responsible human gene editing research, the meaning and implications of endorsing prevention as a research goal will require more careful attention.
Eric Juengst is Professor in the Department of Social Medicine and the Department of Genetics at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where he directs the UNC Center for Bioethics.
He received his B.S. in Biology from the University of the South in 1978, and his Ph.D. in Philosophy from Georgetown University in 1985. He has taught medical ethics and the philosophy of science on the faculties of the medical schools of the University of California, San Francisco Penn State University, and Case Western Reserve University . From 1990 to 1994, he served as the first Chief of the Ethical, Legal and Social Implications Branch of the National Center for Human Genome Research at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and from 2005-2010 he directed the Center for Genetic Research Ethics and Law at CWRU, an NIH supported “Center of Excellence in Ethical, Legal and Social Implications Research (CEER)”. He moved to UNC to help build the bioethics center in 2010, which now supports 8 core research faculty, the University Hospital’s Clinical Ethics Consultation Service, the Research Ethics Resource for the NC Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute, and over 10 competitively-funded research and education projects.
Dr. Juengst’s research interests and publications focus on the conceptual and ethical issues raised by new advances in human genetics and biotechnology. Since 1997 he has been the principal investigator of a series of N.I.H.-funded research projects examining the ethical and social policy issues that will be raised by the availability of genetic and genomic technologies.