tv Gene Editing CSPAN August 5, 2017 8:00pm-9:06pm EDT
in 1979 c-span was created as a public service by america's public and -- cable and satellite television companies. it is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider. next, a discussion on the future of gene editing technology. examining of forum how to increase employment opportunities for people with disabilities. now, a discussion on the future of the new gene-editing tool, and its ability to make changes in human embryos. at the aspen institute, president and ceo walter lisa discussion on the future of genetics at the iceman ideas festival. this is just over one hour. >> welcome everybody. i am walter isaacson, and you're about to enjoy the most important session you will hear
at the aspen ideas festival this year. [laughter] it is about the most important technology that will affect our technology -- crispr technology that will allow the editing of the human genome. importantt the most moral question you and your children will face, which is to what extent should we allow this .echnology to edit human genome with me is the author of "a more and creation." importantly she is author of a 2012, scientific paper that is basically explaining how crispr crispr testas-9 -- nine, can be used -- cas-9 can be used in the human genome. we will talk about the implication of what that means, especially as we edit the human
germline, and allow it to be passed on to our children. but before we get to the ethical implications i thought we should start a little bit with the narrative of how you got there. think on this stage, some of you remember, we had dr. james watson, and francis crick of the double helix dna, and one of the main things he did was he wrote a book about how he got there. and i think of that when you were 12 years old your father but that by your bedside. read first of all, good morning everyone. it is a pleasure to be here and an honor to be here with you all. that story was for me, the beginning of my interest in molecular science. my dad was a professor at the university of hawaii, and in fact everybody my family was a scientist -- my father was
someone who lets tip patrol around in used bookstores and he found this dogeared copy of the double helix. when i read it, i realized that this was a story -- a detective novel in a way, but it was actually real life. it was real science, how you could figure out the structure of a molecule they doing investigative experiments. from that moment on i thought, that is the kind of thing i wanted to do in the future. >> and there is a fabulous scene in there, where francis crick, s into it, and says -- i have discovered the secret of life. explain what he discovered. how's that, better? well, he discovered the structure of the dna double helix. dna is the code of life, the molecule that holds all the
information in cells that tells them how to grow, divide, how to become an organism or tissue, or whatever. they discovered that it look like literally to ribbons wrapped around each other. eight double helical structure. why was that important? of thingsed a lot about inheritance, about how information could be stored inside the cell, and copied safely from generation to generation. because each strand of this double helix, includes a set of letters, of the dna code, which paired with another letter of another strand, it was a beautiful way to explain a lot of questions that scientists had until that point. think, in many ways, i ushered a modern era in biology, opening the door to many kinds of technology that we are now using including crispr. >> so you were a phd at harvard,
went on to teach at yell, and you are now at berkeley. -- you areous core famous for before crispr, understanding the structure of rna, which is i guess, the way that dna expresses itself in any organism. your rna research, because it is even before you came to the notion of crispr right? collect dna's chemical cousin, and many people think that it actually came before dna. it is a molecule, that unlike dna tends to exist in a single-stranded form, not a double helix although it conform very complex readable shapes. that was the question i set out to address when i was a younger scientist, what do those shapes look like an rna, and why -- it was an important question because, again, many people think that our night was the that primordial molecule
store that information and replicated it. in my research as a younger scientists, it was to understand how that rna replication might have actually been catalyzed by rna, molecules that could both store genetic information and replicated and pass it on to new generations. >> so what is the function of rna that we know now? dr. doudna: lots of things. one of the fascinating things that happen in the last 20 years or so in biology, is that rna, when i was learning biology originally, without it was a boring molecule, kind of the intermediary between dna, which held the secret of life in a way, and protein molecules that conducted all of the activities in cells. now we understand that rna molecules do lots of things, to control the way that genetic information is deployed itself.
that is really what i have been , howested in in the study, that regulation worth best works in the dna. >> when you say it dnas expressed in who we are, in cells, what sort of things are determined by our dna, and what sort of things are sort of just guided by our dna, but are not completely determined by it #dr. doudna: that is the $64,000 question. [laughter] walter: yes? people have been trying to understand the code of dna, what the genes are that make up a human being for example, and one of the great, i think it is great, things that come out of that, is that it is complicated, right? it is really come get it. it is not just a list of genes, but in fact, there are many
layers to the way that the information is used. i think that what you are alluding to is something called at the genetics, which really means making chemical changes to dna, that do not alter the genes themselves, that change the way that the information is actually used. : can you give us an example of something that is epigenetic, meaning that it is controlled by the environment, and what is purely genetic and encoded? dr. doudna: it is hard to give you a specific answer, but many people think that with our personalities, how we interact with our environments, things that are more hard to put our finger on, a particular gene that is impossible for intelligence for example, that a lot of that is really a consequence of not just of the genes in our dna, but the way that the genes are actually used. which is epigenetic's. like obesityhings
for example, diseases, those are more genetically determined? that is whates, people think. walter: so, you studied the atomic structure of it, and in the book, there was another great woman, a biochemist, who gives you a phone call out of blue, a -- out of the colleague of yours, and she says to you, we are doing crispr and we need to know how it relates to rna, july to be part of it? dr. doudna: yes, that was field who is aban geo-biologist. she works on bacteria and where they grow in the environment and how they behave and interact with viruses. her research had uncovered a lot of examples of what we call crisper -- crispr which stands for a series of repeated the quizzes in dna. they are easy -- repeated sequences in dna.
was quite interesting about this pattern of sequences was that an included a series of unique sequences that were derived from viruses. had,he question that jill she was not equipped to answer in her own laboratory, was stored those sequences within these crispr elements, might in fact be copied into rna molecules in bacteria then used to protect the cell from viral infections. walter: they first discovered that in spain? dr. doudna: right. several microbiology labs had very important early roles in this, for example francisco mojico was one of the people who coined the acronym crispr and there was a group, a yogurt company in denmark, actually,
who worked on how to protect their yogurt cultures from viral infections and they had uncovered crispr and started harassing them in food preparation. instarted harnessing them food preparation. walter: is it true that when you first started you thought it was spelled crisper, and i think you looked it up, and you realized, .k, there is no e in it and you decided, ok, i will take on this question of crispr, right? dr. doudna: yes, it seemed really interesting to try to pursue this. i have always been, i think there are two kind of scientists. broadly speaking to read there are those who dive into one area of biology and become the world expert in it, and then there are those who are more of a smorgasbord, making things and looking at all different things. i was always more in the second category, so when i heard about
this i thought, that is so i loved doing different experiments. walter: how did you then get to the most amazing discovery of our time, which is crispr can edit a genetic code or genomes? dr. doudna: i think it is a great example of small science, and curiosity driven research as well as international collaboration. all of the things that characterize my career over the last 25 years. i got together with a colleague, emmanuelle charpentier, we met in a conference, neither of us knew each other before hand. sweden,running a lab in at the time, working in different areas of science, she is a medical microbiologist, studying bacteria that in fact people. one of those bacteria turned out to have a very interesting type which ar system, in
single gene, a gene known as , seemed to be required for those sales to protect themselves from viruses. using the crispr sequences. in the question was how does it work? and she was not a biochemist which i was. so we realized that we could get together and do some experiments to figure this out. the result of that club best collaboration was the publication in 2012 in which we -- the results of that was a collaboration in 2012 in which we describe that cells can be programmed with little pieces of rna, in a laboratory and change the sequence. and, what it does is use that piece of rna that it holds onto to find a matching sequence of letters, in a dna molecule. for example the dna of a cell, the promised son. when it finds that matching sequence -- the chromosome. when it finds a matching
sequence, it can fix the break. >> as you would, cutting and pasting. yes, i like to use that word. it is -- when he think about the dna code like the text of a document, this is the scissors that allows you to cut off something and change it. -- cell takes over after the the dna is broken and makes the change at the site of the repair. >> lets make a little detour here, the three major characters in this narrative so far, jill, yourself, and emmanuelle charpentier, who are all women. i think back to the double helix kind of ignored the only woman involved, rosalind franklin. science, ihange in do not think we are seeing a major breakthrough like this let this way? or was this just coincidence? dr. doudna: i think it is an interesting serendipity. women are certainly making more
queries into the scientific world, as well as, obviously in biotechnology and business. it is still harder, i would say, for women, in my own its areas. but i think that this is a great example, none of us planned it that way, it just happened that all of us were running research laboratories that were doing highly complimentary kinds of work. it made it easy for us to work together. walter : what is it like that for women? dr. doudna: i think it is just the ways that women are excluded, women, if you read the sheryl sandberg books, i think a lot of the things that she talks about in "lean in" resonate with me and with others. volunteering for things, they get volunteered for things that take them away from focusing on leadership roles and things like that. so i think it is a lot of that all things.
walter: when you got to the notion of editing genetic sequences or -- what is that you are editing exactly. i know that it is a strand of dna, but what would you call that length of strand that you are editing? dr. doudna: i would call it a length of strand. i mean [laughter] walter: to some extent in might have a gene -- >> it might have a gene, or a sequence that controls a gene. either the gene itself or the part of the dna that controls it. but yes, you can make changes that are very precise, imagine, imagine being able to make a single change to a single letter in the 3 billion base pairs of dna in a human cell. that is the kind of accuracy that we have with this technology. walter: explain to me the scientific and maybe we'll get to the moral difference, of doing that, in a human being or in a cell, or animals which is
perhaps easier and doing it in the germ line. what does it mean to do it in the germ line. >> when we talk about doing it in an adult person, or anything or plant or animal, we're talking about making changes to the cell and ways that the dna changes are not heritable by future generations. in the germ line, that is not changed. those changes become part of the entire organism, and the cells are allowed to develop into an embryo. and those changes can be passed on to future generations. becomes a permanent alteration. it is sort of changing the evolution of the species at that point. walter: but our evolution is always change, right, so what is the difference here? here, we are doing a targeted fashion, making decisions consciously about changing this one gene, or even
a set of genes, to make something that we think is desirable. >> and the timescale is different? >> yes. is different.t >> something that we would do in 10 years we could do in 20 minutes. [laughter] well, somewhat. science has already been able to use this to do, can you give us an example? dr. doudna: there are a lot of examples. we know that mice are used very commonly and models for human disease. to make my site have changes to their dna to make them more humanlike in certain ways and make it easier to study therapeutic drugs on them. similarly, while you mentioned picks, pigs, one of the attractive things with pigs
right now, is the idea that engineering them so that they are better organ donors for humans. this is already being actively worked on those in research labs them up but also in companies. walter: so you basically create pigs that become forms for organs for humans. dr. doudna: that is the idea. theer: the what happens to picks, how do you change genetic coding? dr. doudna: you can literally program the dna so that their organs or certain molecular properties, their immune system for example, looks more humanlike. so you can actually transplant genes that are altering or making subtle alterations to their dna, so that on the molecular level they behave in a more humanlike way. mosquitoes, about that transmit zika or something to read what can you do about that? dr. doudna: that is another one,
the idea of jean drive. basically means that you have a way of altering dna, and you can use it and set it up in a way that it will drive the genetic trait more quickly through a population, for example in a population of insects. it is already being worked on in mosquitoes, in principle one could create types of mosquitoes that are resistant to viruses, and therefore cannot transmit the zika virus. walter: you could also create them as easily in mosquitoes that do not reproduce the same way, let's say, cutting back a population of mosquitoes -- >> bats right. >> is that being -- that is right. >> are you doing this to take on the the mosquitoes? dr. doudna: welcome miami not doing it, but there are other groups who are doing that. this is something that people believe could be an effective way to control insects who are otherwise breading disease.
walter: that passes along to mosquitoes from here on out, right? it is not just into one line of mosquitoes. dr. doudna: that is correct. readr: when i was young, i rachel carlson, and we were able to get rid of mosquitoes. , andd it with ddt generations later there were no population of pelicans in my home state. we did not know the consequences of that. what are the consequences of what this is doing to the mosquito population. i. doudna: i think that is -- would argue that we don't. i was at a talk recently and someone was talking about jean drives work with you does them and trying to, come up with the way, experiments in a controlled environment to see what would happen when you have a jean
--ves -- a >> we had laces that were supposed to contain mosquitoes in louisiana too. [laughter] so who is in charge of saying stop. there are: right now, various, obviously government regulatory agencies which are in charge of controlling the environmental release of organisms that are modified this way. but i would say that right now, it is an interesting time to read the thing about this technology is that it is moving incredibly fast. to give you a sense, this technology is barely five years old right now, and already, we do not talk about this, but it is already in clinical trials for cancer treatment in china. you know, it is sort of mind-boggling, the pace of scientific research has picked up with this tool. dozeneeing the early, a
or more papers for week in the scientific literature using the crispr technology. one of the big challenges is how you keep government regulatory groups up to speed with this, how you make sure they are aware of how fast things are moving and the pace of governments is not that fast. >> i will give you an example of it, from yesterday. i guess you could say, tom price, the secretary of health and human services, as you know, was here on the stage. he says he is worried about the if for double care act, but he is also, this is something you should think about, they saw your book in my office, and he starts asking about it. he said, you know, actually this would be even more important, 50 years or 100 years from now, that then what you do on the affordable care act. it will affect the world more. and he said, maybe i ought to
read the book. [laughter] so i gave him a copy. [laughter] copy.n send them a signed [laughter] so, let's start talking about humans, if we made. tell me, i have looked at the pictures, longer hair on sheep, killed,that are hypoallergenic ax, then we get to the part where you can actually start -- hypoallergenic eggs, then we get to the part where you can start changing the human genome. where would you start, what would you do first? blood diseases? cancer? dr. doudna: i think the kind of treatment that are in focus right now in research are not, first of all not in the germ line. we're not where talking about what we call somatic cell
changes. not heritable. like i said, it is very attractive to be able to cure diseases that have unknown single mutation that is causing it. for example, sickle cell disease which is something people talk about a lot. it is attractive for disease gene,his, by editing the and replacing the correctly edited cell so that you can repopulate the blood supply. sickle cell mutation, has been known for a long time. it is a severe disease that we have no treatment for at this time, and there is a fairly large group of people that are affected by it. so i think that will likely be one of the early targets of gene editing. >> and as we do, and our moral spectrum, that is pretty solidly , yes, let's do that. it will not affect the germ line, it will not affect children but it will save people from a bad disease.
hou, china is apparently ahead of us in this, let's not get into the part where we are not running enough on research in this country, where do you think they are working on it? >> i think, in china, they have actually been working on asking the question, does this technology work, in developing human embryos? could we actually imagine one day using it, maybe we want to correct the sickle cell mutation, but do it not in someone who already has it as a does -- an adult, or do it -- but do it in the stage of genesis. so the first paper, and now there are several published, that was about this topic, was published in the spring of 2015, using nonviable human embryos. it really sparked, attracted a
huge amount of attention, because it really brought to the forefront the idea that this technology is really at our doorstep and we have to make a decision as a society on how to proceed with this kind of -- >> when you say embryos, you meant that all future generations would have this specs. viablehose embryos were and implanted, then in principle, yes. that theyd the fact were nonviable, was just a small choice. they could've chosen to use viable ones -- >> yes. so this is ready to go. dr. doudna: well, -- >> in five to 10 years? dr. doudna: yes, i certainly think so. walter: if you were thinking of doing it, what would be the thing that you would say, i want to apply it to this? dr. doudna: and embryos?
-- in embryos? walter: yes. dr. doudna: i think there needs to be a broad societal consensus concerning whether that type of use of gene editing should proceed. there obviously hasn't been the opportunity -- >> so if you knew that somebody, genetically an embryo, was going to get a fatal blood disease, you would not fix it? dr. doudna: i would advise other approaches, i think, today. i think the use of it in a should cell application, happen first, for safety reasons, but frankly also to give us some time to grapple with this issue. are we going to start editing the germ line. i think once it begins it will be very hard to stop it, very hard to say, i will do this thing that not that thing. everybody's feelings let about this will be different. and who will pay for this?
walter: so you're saying that we, the responsible people should pause. co-author, i think you as a graduate student of yours, sam sternberg, i assume it is a woman, by her pseudonym recently, athis is colleague comes to him and says, let's do it. and she is trying to commercialize this, and she would i assume, make of our children taller and smarter -- it is pretty easy to do, let's take a specific example of something you could do with the gene. which i think has a stronger, s -- a stronger body. dr. doudna: or bigger muscles. walter: yes, things that people would say they would want in their children. bigger or stronger. that is scientifically
conceivable, those are truly things that you can find on the genome that you can change, right? so,doudna: yes read walter: if christina goes to your partner and says, let's market this, what happens? dr. doudna: either way that is a true story. [laughter] you want to know her last name? walter: yes. dr. doudna: we will talk later. [laughter] i will not go there, but this is something that ought to be talked about more. if there are silicon valley entrepreneurs trying to valley you and your students to market trying to hire you and your students to market this, to make children who are stronger -- >> it is not happening today, but it does not mean that it will not happen in the future. walter: but that is what happened to sam, right?
dr. doudna: yes, this person came to my student, and she said that she herself wanted to first -- to have the first crispr baby. have a menu of options. and while, we were pretty shocked at the time, sam and i, not so much now given all that is going on. i think it really illustrates a couple of different points. you are bringing up the idea that there is a commercial asked that all of this, that is something that i think people are all grappling with, and secondly, it really does get to the moral and ethical challenges around this technology. christina could not do that today in the united states, right, it would not be possible for her to do that, but could she do it in other parts of the world, potentially? yes. walter: we hear that christina hzhouw in wenzhou -- guang
china trying to make that deal? dr. doudna: it is possible. people, who are wealthy enough, could go to a company in the foreseeable future, say in 10 years, and i want my's the menu, baby. dr. doudna: i think it could happen, yes. [whistles] suppose in the genetic line, of the family, they have a blood disease, whatever it may be. say, let'sbe ok to turn that one off? dr. doudna: are you asking me my personal opinion? walter: yeah. think, it comes down to, to me, with any technology, first and foremost you have to have a risk versus benefit approach.
i would want to know, does this even works, does the company have any credentials or evidence , what is the safety of this. decide, is theo risk, because there was always risk, is the risk worth the benefit? are there alternatives that would be better or just good that i would consider? walter: and suppose the benefit is better than the risk? then, i thinkll at some point in might be something that we have to consider. we had an interesting meeting in early january of 2015, i think we talk about it in the book, where a group of scientists, of about 20 people, including paul berg and david baltimore who had been involved in the discussions in 1970's on them up -- the ethics of molecular cloning -- >> let's posit that. there is something on cloning where they say they need a moratorium on cloning. well, molecular
cloning means making copies of little pieces of dna in bacteria. that has been shown to be quite safe to do. widely now done across the world in biology labs. walter: so, flash forward to today. would you all have a moratorium, if you scientists get together, or was that wishful thinking? dr. doudna: i think we could read that was the idea we were meeting to ask. would it be possible to build a consensus globally, among the scientific and clinical communities, about the way to proceed with this technology. and that is really what many people are working to do. the point i wanted to make about the meeting was that i thought it was interesting that even in that small group of scientists, one could argue, we are all cut from the same cloth in some way, right? and we were having this conversation, quite a heated one, and at some point someone
leaned across the table and said, at some point we may decide it is not ethical to not use this in the germ line. for certain things are weird it made people sit back and think about it a little differently. so i think there is a lot of work to be done to develop this technology to the point where it can be, in principle safe enough to you do that. but, that is five years from now. so we might as well -- >> yes, exactly. watch her back so, the question is, would that be immoral to say to a family, you cannot have this genetic easily marked, bringthat is going to -- a blood this note -- blood disorder, not to fix it, right? dr. doudna: if there is no treatment -- >> suppose the kid is going to be born deaf, would you fix that? dr. doudna: that it is an
interesting realm, i have had a number of conversations with people in that community, and many of them actually feel that that deafness for them, is not a defect that they would fix. >> so suppose you had two parents, both death, for genetic reasons, and they thought it was a defect, and they were about to have a child that was not death, could they ask for you to fix it so their child would not be daft? [laughter] dr. doudna: [laughter] a! by the way, michael asked that question in class. it was not me. [laughter] i think, who decides? should the parents decide? if they want to do it should they be told they can do it but only if they want to pay for it? i think these are tricky issues. water bank but if it is going to go -- walter: if it is going to go down the germ line, and the child doesn't have a voice, one
has to think about the interest of the child too right? so, if you go down the spectrum of things you could do, certainly as you said, bone mass, muscle, or haps even , isht, and to some extent there some moral line, or is this -- >> i think the that is the question. that is the thing we are all grappling with is there a line, and if there is, where is it? i think it is hard, honestly, when you look at what is happened in in vitro fertilization, over the last 20 years, and i am old enough to remember for an after. there was a lot of controversy when it first became available. a lot of people said, that he was wrong. and you had some parents saying test tube babies, that is wrong. there was obviously demand for it from infertile couples,
and it has shown over time to be apparently, safe to do. you know, it has become accepted, at least largely. you go to different fertilization clinics, in different states, they offer different things, some of them will offer the possibility for parents to select the sects of their child and some don't. it is a very funny thing, the regulation around this is nebulous. so, will that happen also with gene editing? it could. i do not know. walter: when you say that you were trying to pull a consensus on it, did you talk with the scientists in china? dr. doudna: yes we did. walter: what did they say? dr. doudna: well, the acknowledged the controversy on the work they were doing, and they said, they were very honest. they said, in our technology and our culture there is a very different view about human life then certainly the western christian judeo -- the
judeo-christian culture. and i think that is something that we have to grapple with. array: i am good something from your book, the argument that germ line editing -- the argument that germ line editing does not carry much weight with me anymore. what happened? you were -- go-ahead. dr. doudna: i really found, and it came as a surprise to me actually, i found my own attitude about editing the germ line, changing over time. icause for many reasons, guess i started thinking about the fact that after all, we pick our partners, and we have kids, so at some level we are expecting our kids, to look like our partner. actually, these days, believe it or not you can buy x, you can go to a sperm bank, look in a catalog and decide, who dwell what makes -- the father of my
child to be. that is already being done. can go to countries like israel, that actually pay for couples to have after two fertilizedvitro nation if they want to, and they pay for pre-implementation genetic diagnosis to remove embryos that have ever stating genetic diseases associated with them. there is a lot of engineering in the way that it is going on. walter: yes, germany did that in the 1930's. [laughter] dr. doudna: [laughter] exactly, it is not a straightforward thing at all. but it does go on. and the other thing that happened is that, here i am, a biochemist, and i have always done very fundamental research on molecules. i do not do anything with embryos or even animals in my laboratory, and yet i was hitting contacted, and this
happens routinely now, by patients, families, parents who reached out and said, i have and disease in my family they wanted to send pictures of their beautiful children, dealing with these devastating diseases, and that hits you very deeply. -- ifart to ask, does this technology were available, and there was a way to prevent that kind of suffering, why would we not want to use it? walter: so, can we draw, not a sharp line, but try to put a fixing the sand, between things that are diseases, very harmful to people, versus creating enhancements, like making children taller, muscles, people say -- i want to change wait, i want my children to be a different weight. that is not a disease, that is something -- should we draw a line between that type of thing and say -- i have a genetic
disorder or is there no line to be drawn? i. doudna: let's say that told you that we could make a change to an embryo that would remove a single gene that if left in place would make a person susceptible to cardiovascular disease when they got older? and there is no deleterious effect to removing this gene, so, it is a that idea to do it? walter: or bad cholesterol, you can do that -- you can ask crispr to take out, not mine, but somebody's that cholesterol? in a whole germ line? dr. doudna: exactly. walter: and you are saying that that is a borderline on disease enhancement. you collectwhen disease enhancement or preventing disease? i don't know. i think in the end it may
end up being regulated differently, in different jurisdictions. because people's opinions and values will be different, and it is hard to change that. >> when we get to the borderlines, one thing that amazes me is that you can get a armpit order easily [laughter] is that something we should do? dr. doudna: it would be very useful. [laughter] walter: one of the things, in a whener sense, is that talking to secretary price, but also others, people question the value of basic science. they want to get a friend of the nih, and the national science foundation, and yet, it used to be that everything, from the sequencing of the human genome to the ability to add transistors on a piece of conducting material, comes out of research labs like yours.
what would happen to a lab like yours, which is really just a wonderful group of people, graduate students, doing this service, if the government quit funding, this research? dr. doudna: it would be a disaster. we would have a gleeful to our operation and go do something else. i think, we have been facing in the united states for the last decade at least, this push research,anslational people saying, why are we working on fruit flies, and what we really ought to be doing is curing cancer or curing alzheimer's? well i don't think anyone would argue that we're not. but the question is how do we get there? what has happened, if you look moderner the history of science, a lot of this fundamental discovery, and technology that has enabled
those discoveries has come about through curiosity driven research. projects that were not aimed in any particular direction, just a group of smart people, that are just asking gee, i wonder how this works. and they do this service, and that was certainly the same thing in this crispr object for us. it led in a different direction. i am not saying that we do not want to have people working on these diseases, we need that too, but we need both. the danger right now, i think, and you alluded to this earlier, is that if the united eights really cuts back on -- the united states really cuts back on ending for basic research, a lot of it done in mall laboratories, i think we will find ourselves falling behind other countries. and already we are on the cusp of that happening because countries like china, or investing huge amounts of money -- >> i once read that china is
investing 20 times more than the u.s. in basic research in genetic technology. yes,that sound dr. doudna: that sounds about right. my colleagues and i, we struggle here in the united states, in berkeley i am in one of the top research universities but we struggle to get enough money to buy equipment like electron microscopes and other things. there's been a huge explosion over the last few years in advances of technology, and meanwhile we are seeing our colleagues in china, buying up 20 at a time. really astounding. what are bang need that microscope to figure out say, the more like euler -- the molecular structure of rna. dr. doudna: exactly. anter: so, there was experiment, if eisenhower had not done it, and we had not in men at the transistor, had not
invented the microchip, the laser, not invented the internet, and not been able to and gps, that sort of thing, that is what would've happened if we had not done the basic research on some i conducting materials. and various things. and places like russia or china, if they had actually invented everything, from the microchips to personal computers, you could imagine russia being the dominant economy in the world, right? so, can imagine china becoming the duck -- the dominant economy in the world if we cut on basic research? >> yes. we all wonder about it innocent -- the scientific community for sure. we would probably all be working in china, running a lab there. but it is a very real question i think, for many of us. what is the future of scientific research in this country? will we maintain our dominance
in that area, or will we let it get away? walter: last question. think of what you want to do with your grandchildren's genome i will let thed audience go. a lot of research in this field is very collaborative and then it is also competitive, almost like, whether it is amazon or google, there is can the titian and -- competition and collaboration. me,cience, it seems to promotes a little bit more competition than they do collaboration. for example, in your field, there has been some controversy where you have george church and others in harvard who have done things in their lab, derek -- he hasthe road done a lot of -- done a lot of work on crispr and you have been
battling a lot of patents that deal with this. eric wrote a piece called "the heroes of crisper" that got a lot of criticism. he was hit on for being ungenerous scientifically and also perhaps sexist. but 10 of this -- some of this competition seems to be driven by two things, one, a 10 office that these to find in science these days, who gets credit for this amazing thing. and second, a nobel prize committee that can only award it to three people. you, as is aher problem in science? dr. doudna: i think it is a problem to read i don't know how anyone solves this problem. science has always included elements of both collaboration and competition. way,ou need both in the competition can be very good, it spurs people on -- >> yes, --
>> and the challenges how to get that balance right, and one of the things i think about a lot is how to attract younger scientists into our field. we really want to draw in, they're the ones that are honestly driving the work right now. my lab, i am sitting here talking to you, but the people in my lab are there doing it. they are the ones really driving the results that will be coming out. so, how do we ensure that they continue to be attracted to our field and drawn into it? i think that one runs the danger of especially certain types of people feeling excluded, if there is a feeling on unfairness somehow, that can be very detrimental to attracting younger scientists. prizes, the same thing with prizes, it is difficult. prizesit on various committees, and thinking of, you
want to give a prize in a certain area, and recognize a scientist who has done the work, but you appreciate at some level that everyone's work is built on other peoples work, and involves the work of other younger scientists in the laboratories were not being named in particular are these prizes. so how do you deal with that? walter: how much would you say that you would have to depend on, sort of the broad institute or the george church, and others. how would that be made better? in your book you do not talk about them? in his article he does not talk about you, and it seems to me that if i may, i could tell a story -- it happened with a microchip, where both texas instruments and jack gilby, and intel, coinvented around the same time -- a 20 year patent battle, and a noble prize battle, but finally, they call each other and say, let us
just share the patent, and they do. and when kilby gets eight noble prize, he says, if he was alive he would be standing with me here. would you like to make a phone call and sort of bring all of these people together at some point? dr. doudna: it sounds lovely when you put it that way. [laughter] life is always more complicated. i don't own any pens, there are all owned by my university. so it is my university that is making decisions about what to do with intellectual property. there are the ones hiring lawyers and deciding how to pursue things. i would say that this is true i imagine, at m.i.t. if it were up to the scientists, it might be better, or [laughter] maybe not. walter: we do have some lawyers in the room, who say that you keep criticizing or blaming them. [laughter] let me open it up if i may, thank you.
i am a scientist and i've been following the crisper story. i would like to have you imagine that we live in an age in 2017 where there is no ice cream. and you invent ice cream. you invent, and your friends come over and you say, well, how do you like it? and they say they love it. then you say, it causes cholesterol elevation and may be dangerous mind has some hazardous side effects. maybe we shouldn't do anything about this. well, maybe we should publish it on the internet. well i think that crispr is sort of like that, because the cat is out of the hat, and capitalism is here to stay. , what walterrstand alluded to, the free-for-all, how we will have any control over it if patent offices will be irrelevant, it etc. what is your scenario for the future, over the next 10 years?
dr. doudna: you bring up a good point. and that is, one of the things that is on one hand wonderful but also very challenging about this technology is that it is widely available. patent offices notwithstanding, anybody who is doing economic or even -- academic or even commercial research right now could get the tools of doing gene editing and do it. and that is happening. so there is absolutely no way to an ethicsct, i had meeting recently at a philosopher came up and said if i could i would throw away crispr. and i thought well, you can't [laughter] so it is a moot point. you cannot do that. ,o i think it is forging ahead we have to grapple with, we are in the system that we are in. right? and we have to deal with this technology in that context. i have been encouraging an
international discussion about it, and i think the worst thing we can do is try to ignore it. or for scientists not to get involved in helping to educate people about it and help them make those decisions. walter: yes. >> we know that chemotherapy came out of the experiment with germ warfare. so, do you think we will face gene wars? and you might even talk about i guess it was james clapper, director of national intelligence, who was surprised to read that the top 10 threat assessments to our country? dr. doudna: so, are we going to cg warfare going on? -- are we going to see gene warfare going on? yes, it was listed as one of the top weapons of mass distraction -- destruction. and why is that? ciaer: yes by the cna, the
-- >> it is accessible to read it is technology that is easy to use and misuse. i don't have any easy answers for that, right? edit -- i think it is a big challenge that we face. >> give me a nightmare scenario of a probe regime or a non-actor. dr. doudna: you can certainly imagine the misuse of this to spread genetic trait in whatever. humans or something else, that would have deleterious effects, or adulterous effects on other species. would do i worry about that more than i worry about other things, such as dangerous viruses that anyone can synthesize, or toxins that are well known, there are a lot of ways to do bad things, right? so i think that this is another way to do bad things, but am not muchit it really is that
different in a way, than other technologies that one can misuse. back,'s go all the way the microphone got to her first. then the gentleman in the middle. is mya and i am 18 years old. i find your story very inspiring, especially for young women. was, have you ever experienced discrimination based on your gender and how do you deal with it? science, like technology, business, etc.. mywhen i was in high school, high school guidance counselor asked me what i wanted to do when i grew up and i said i wanted to be a scientist. and he asked -- he laughed. he said, girls do not do science!. >> where is he now? [laughter] link? send him the >> sure. [laughter] timeat was a really over
that i remember something like that happening. i have to say though, i have really been fortunate in my career. i'm really grateful to many people who have supported me, helped me out, men and women who have given me encouragement at moments when i thought about quitting, which you know, happened many times. i have to say that i've been very fortunate that way. but i also talked to a lot of women who definitely do feel held back in various ways. again, in my experience, in many cases it is. unintentional discrimination. they are not actively trying to prevent women from moving ahead, there just are not help helping them do things that would be beneficial, such as encouraging them to go into stem fields, or whether it is the level of becoming a professor or ceo of a company, and needing things like child care, to arrange your schedule so that it accommodates
your. personal life as well i think there is still a lot more work to be done in that area. it willhould be done -- be done in your generation, frankly, encouraging people to think about enabling women in ways that would be effective for them. so, there are many medical advances over the last 5200 --rs, this one is stunning 50 to 100 years, why is this one different? [indiscernible] >> the question is why is this one different from all of the other article advances over the last 50 or 100 years? it it isa: i think, different. it is an enabling in a way that most things are not. it is enabling, not just medical, science and medical applications but everything.
we did not talk too much about this, but it has also been very widely used in agriculture, for animalhusband lit -- husbandry, synthetic biology, anything you can think of to do with biology. this technology touches upon. know, is very widely you tactful -- impactful in that sense. it is also very straightforward to use. an example for that, indigo go sells a >> this is not a good idea. >> and this is for great school kids. >> bad idea. are lightsble, there in my eyes, so forgive me. recent graduate from berkeley high school.
and so, to give context to the youngon, you wanted a scientists to be like interested and excited about this stuff that they might be conferred about fairness and things like that. community who our idea of -- through the genetic inferiority and there bias we face. is there anyway you can encourage us to allow our compassion and evolution to evolve at the same rate as technology? >> this is the best question of the day. [applause] >> it is great because it opens the final question. you talk about making an
equitable, fair, non- discriminatory. >> i guess it is a great question and something i give up a lot. i've actually been working with a group at harvard medical a wonderfuly professor. it is called personal genetics education. i incurred everyone -- i encourage anyone interested to look it up. they outreach to groups that have been traditionally excluded , you know,cs understanding what genetics is all about. how it affects you personally. i think what she is doing is very important because her mission is to be inclusive. i think the only way we can proceed is to have, you know, an open community of people to get involved. it cannot just be the elites doing something and everybody else, you know, trying to figure it out. i think it really has to be a
societal in global effort. i think they have been doing a great job. >> the history of science, there has been a was no example of advances in technology and thence out running processing power to deal with them. you can argue the atom bomb. a few examples. this, to me, is one of the closest calls we are going to have an hour lifetimes. i am glad you are part of the discussion. thank you. [applause] >> the book is available, so find it. i say. [indiscernible conversation]
be sure to watch c-span's washington journal, live at 7:00 a.m. sunday morning. join me discussion. discussion. announcer: sunday night on q&a -- >> i had never heard of him. i wanted to know how this manhood been told since he was young child that he was not worth anything could've had courage and determination to work his way out of slavery. i was intrigued and could not stop reading about him. announcer: looking at the life of robert small, a slave escaped bondage during the civil war and serve on congress. >> he served five terms in the house of representatives. there was a bribery charge against him and he never fully recovered. my opinion is that is one of the reasons he is not better known today. announcer: sunday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern on