Ethics on Site

Prof. Randall Platt, who started his research for the NCCR MSE in October 2016, recently gave a lecture in our seminar „Ethics on Site“ (EoS). Platt has established methods for in vivo genome engineering and has conducted pioneering work on modelling genetic disorders. His presentation gave fascinating insights into his challenging work and tackled numerous ethical challenges the NCCR Molecular Systems Engineering is about to face in the near future.

Ethics on Site seminar with NCCR MSE PhD students.

Randall Platt (Work Package 4) lecturing on the ethical challenges of gene editing.


Read what our PhD students thought about this event and EoS:

"Ethics on Site with Randall Platt offered a good insight into possibilities and advantages arising from the CRISPR technology. I liked how new perspectives were sketched, and also that questions about the abuse potential or the ethical dimension, that comes along as research and new therapies progress, were raised. We were able to think about questions that go far beyond our every day’s lab work. Discussing possible breakthroughs and their impact on society and environment was a worthwhile experience."
- Michael Skaisgirski

"I found it very interesting to learn something new beyond my scientific background. It was interesting for me to see, how scientific curiosity can change people's view on things. My heartfelt thanks to Prof Platt for answering such difficult and personal ethical questions."
- Viktoria Mikhalevich

"Thank you very much for organization of yesterday`s ethics seminar. It was very interesting topic and also discussion afterwards. It is really very important questions how we can determine the disease and who can decide to cure it or let the people just be as they are with their genetic differences/illnesses. I think it is really difficult to give a proper answer to this dilemma."
- Svetlana Stolarov

"Ethics on site serves several purposes well: the series acclimatises ethical questioning to your workplace instead of it being mentally tied to a classroom environment. Having a practicing “fellow” scientist openly concern himself with otherwise theoretical issues demonstrates relevance and finally discussions can more rapidly dive into ethical conundra brought up by job specifics."
- David Willi Fuchs

"It was fascinating to hear from an expert in the CRISPR field what his views were on the potential risks regarding the hype that is associated with the CRISPR technology, especially in which sector the socioeconomically gains from the technology could foster scientific misconduct. Contrary to my own conviction, he argued that academia could be more likely to cut corners when using and applying the CRISPR technology than the industry, i.e. high impact publication is a bigger incentive than the economical profitability of a company.
The discussion with Prof. Platt also raised some interesting points on how a scientist’s personal moral guidelines can change during the course of his/her career; in this case the moral behind using animal studies in scientific research as well as the moral differentiation between for example mice studies and primate studies.
A potentially alarming issue brought to our attention by Prof. Platt was the fact that livestock and produce that is engineered using genome editing is not classified as a GMO product with current regulation, which could make it close to impossible to trace the exact derivation of our groceries unless regulatory agencies are able to set up clear guidelines and classifications for genetically engineered livestock and produce."

- Viktor Hällmann


For more information please contact Ralf Stutzki.