Want to discuss the societal, ethical, and regulatory challenges associated with CRISPR and other genetic technologies? Come to a BERGIT meeting!
The Berkeley Ethics and Regulation Group for Innovative Technologies (BERGIT) is an ideas exchange and a meeting ground for collaborations across disciplines to integrate ethics, regulation, and policy with science. Our goal is to provide space for discussion, facilitate opportunities, and instigate a proactive cultural shift in responsible innovation. BERGIT is hosted by the Innovative Genomics Institute and led by an interdisciplinary team with expertise in Ethics, Law, and Molecular Biology. Participants come from institutions around the SF Bay Area and beyond.
Please join our email list to hear about future meetings.
Date: Roughly three times a semester (see Upcoming Meetings below for dates)
Time: 12:00 – 2:00 pm Pacific Time with lunch served at 12 (RSVP required)
Location: Innovative Genomics Institute Building, Room 115 (unless otherwise specified)
Remote Access: Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for access to remote participation information.
Note: IGIB requires card key access, but someone should be there to let you in. The seminar room is on the first floor with windows facing the front door of the building. If you are unable to enter, please grab the attention of someone in the room to let you in.
This semester we will explore the forces that shape the translation of human genetic technologies and the ethical challenges they create by looking at examples of past, current, and future uses of genetic and biomedical technologies. The landscape of incentives and drivers includes everything from altruism and the public good, to military and geopolitical drivers, to commercial and market forces. By looking at case studies through the lens of incentives, we will ask what do these examples suggest about the future of genetic applications and what incentives or guard rails will need to be in place to promote responsible translation?
Unproven stem cell clinics: a crystal ball for gene therapies?
Over the past two decades, stem cell research has made huge advancements in our understanding of cellular differentiation, human development, and the biological basis for many diseases. But with this research has come an abundance of hype and hope for clinically translated therapies, and at its worst, has led to the creation of hundreds of for-profit clinics selling unsubstantiated and unapproved stem cell treatments for just about anything that ails you. Contrary to what the growth of this business might suggest, it remains illegal to market cell therapies that haven't been approved by the FDA.
In this BERGIT meeting we will ask, what can we learn from the history of rogue stem cell clinics in the US? What contributed to the creation of commercial stem cell clinics peddling unsubstantiated claims? Are there attributes of genome editing technologies that may predict a similar future? Or protect against one? What are the regulatory and enforcement limits that contribute to these negative outcomes? And perhaps most critically, how can the genome editing field guard against a similar future?
Genomic predictors: there's an app for that
The wealth of information contained in our genetic code has led to leaps in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. But in addition to regulated medical uses, commercial applications have sparked the curiosity of the public for everything from learning about your genetic predispositions to identifying your ancestral roots, to dating and dieting advice. In this meeting, we will build on the last meeting's themes of overinterpretation and overpromising, and examine case studies of commercially-driven phenotypic prediction where regulation is sparse and market incentives are high. What can these case studies tell us about what responsible entrepreneurship in genomic prediction looks like, and how can we apply it in our own work?
Genomic predictors and political uses
With reports of sequencing at the US border and uses to identify groups of interest to governments, it is clear that drivers of translation can move beyond commercial or biomedical applications and include political motivations. In this meeting, we will examine case studies of government uses of genetic technologies, and discuss policy implications.
Archives of past meetings can be found here.
Read the blog post from last semester's meeting on paying for CRISPR cures!
Paying for CRISPR cures
October 23rd, 2019
With the announcement of a $1.8M price tag for Bluebird Bio's gene therapy treatment for beta-thalassemia, the latest in a string of shocking prices assigned to new gene therapies, concerns mount over prospects for the affordability of CRISPR therapies. This BERGIT meeting examined the question of price and accessibility from three experts in diverse fields.
We strive to make our events accessible and inclusive. The Innovative Genomics Institute Building is ADA accessible, and has a lactation room that visitors can use. For disability accommodation information and requests and/or access to the lactation room, please contact Kristy Nordahl at email@example.com or 510-664-7110.