Genetic Revolution Regional Hubs

Genetic Revolution Regional Hubs and Ethical Lines

Genetic Revolution Regional Hubs – As the biographer of Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson has studied and written extensively about the physics and technological revolutions. However, after finishing his most recent book, he is convinced that a far more significant revolution is in the works.


“The next few decades will be the era of biotech,” he predicted in a Tech News podcast interview about his new book, The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race. “We’ll be able to do totally amazing things that will not only make us healthier but in some ways will transform our species. So, as much as I admire the digital revolution, I believe this is the major one.”


The book tells the stories of scientists and other key figures in the field to explore the history and implications of gene editing. Jennifer Doudna, a UC Berkeley biochemist, and French geneticist Emmanuelle Charpentier won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2020 for their discoveries and work in CRISPR gene editing. [Genetic Revolution Regional Hubs]


Isaacson is a history professor at Tulane University and was previously the CEO of The Aspen Institute, the chair of CNN, and the editor of Time.


Navigating the Perilous Path of Genetic Editing: “At first, I shivered at the thought of genetic editing. “It’s like Prometheus stealing fire from the gods or playing God,” Isaacson said.


However, his book research and interviews made him more open to the positive implications of gene editing, if done carefully and with safeguards against unintended consequences. In terms of ethics, he believes that genetic editing should be designed to benefit all of society in some way. He goes on to say that it’s critical to distinguish between genetic editing that benefits one person and germline editing that results in inherited traits. [Genetic Revolution Regional Hubs]


“Slopes become less slippery if you approach them cautiously and step by step,” he explained.


Doudna’s story: “The Code Breaker” follows Doudna from her childhood in Hawaii, where she was inspired by The Double Helix by DNA pioneer James Watson, which her father brought home and left for her to read. She disregarded the guidance counselor’s advice that girls do not become scientists.


The rest of Isaacson’s book recounts the race to patent and commercialise gene editing breakthroughs. It also delves into Doudna’s most recent collaboration with her team, in which they apply their research and RNA expertise to the COVID-19 pandemic while grappling with the ethical implications of gene editing. [Genetic Revolution Regional Hubs]


“I met Jennifer Doudna years ago, interviewed her for various things, and I realised that her life story is a perfect narrative thread,” Isaacson said. “I’m a biographer; I like to do it through narrative and through a person,” he says of the book’s colourful cast of characters.


Threads that run throughout: When asked what trait his biographical subjects have in common, such as Leonardo, Einstein, Jobs, and Doudna, Isaacson said it’s curiosity about the mysteries of everyday life. “When you become curious, you seek out life’s mysteries, and life becomes a detective story for you.”


This trait, he noted, is also present in Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, whom Isaacson profiled in a shorter biography published as the introduction to a collection of Bezos’ writing. [Genetic Revolution Regional Hubs]


This same fundamental curiosity drives basic research and contributed to the development of CRISPR gene editing. Scientists studied how bacteria defend themselves and create immunity in order to figure out how to precisely unravel and splice the twin strands of DNA in order to insert new genes.


Life sciences hubs: At the risk of becoming too specific, I asked Isaacson about the role of regional hubs in the life sciences era. He described Seattle, as well as a few other parts of the country, as “incredibly well-positioned,” owing to the presence of tech companies, computer scientists, the University of Washington, and other research and philanthropic institutions.


Advice for entrepreneurs: According to Isaacson, the greatest opportunity is in making health screening more accessible through home-based testing kits and the underlying platforms that enable them. “That will bring biology home in the same way that the personal computer or the iPhone brought digital technology home,” he says. [Genetic Revolution Regional Hubs]


“First and foremost, that nature is beautiful,” he hopes readers will take away from the book. If you’re really curious about strange little things in nature, like how bacteria fight viruses, you might discover that they’re also useful.”


“We as a species are gradually discovering the secret of how we work,” he said. “And now that secret has given us an amazing tool, which is not only the ability to understand the code of life, but to rewrite the code of life when we need to, with a little caution and, hopefully, a lot of wisdom.”

Subscribe Newsletter
Sign up for Davenport’s Daily Digest and get the best of Davenport, tailored for you. [mc4wp_form id="729"]