2022 marks the 10th anniversary of a remarkable paper in Science that paved the way for the CRISPR gene editing revolution. The senior authors of that study – Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier – shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2020. The “genetic scissors” have already been deployed in the clinic, essentially curing a handful of patients with sickle-cell disease and a growing number of other genetic disorders.
But like many new technologies, CRISPR also has a dark side. In 2018, following experiments editing a single gene in human embryos, gene-edited twin girls were born in China. This triggered an international firestorm that culminated in the lead researcher, He Jiankui, being imprisoned for three years. The health of “Lulu” and “Nana” is unknown.
I admit I was a bit late to the CRISPR party: most of my publishing endeavors (launching journals, writing books, giving talks) focused on advances in our ability to read or sequence DNA. The idea of editing the genetic code had seemed fanciful and far off. But CRISPR changed all that. In 2017, I’d heard enough: I decided not only to launch the first journal dedicated to CRISPR (cleverly titled The CRISPR Journal) but to write a book on the subject.
With impeccable timing, Editing Humanity: The CRISPR Revolution and the New Era of Genome Editing, was published one day before the 2020 Nobel Prize was announced. It’s my attempt to tell the grand story of this amazing technology – the heroes who discovered it (and in some cases are feuding over it); the early successes in precision gene therapy; the ethical scandals and fallout surrounding the #CRISPRbabies scandal; and the future applications, from resurrecting woolly mammoths to feeding a hungry planet.
Join us March 29th 1-2pm ET for Sanguine’s S3 Webinar: The CRISPR Craze. Register Today.
KEVIN DAVIES PhD
British science writer Kevin Davies, Ph.D., is the author of EDITING HUMANITY: The CRISPR Revolution and the New Era of Genome Editing (Pegasus Books, 2020). Kevin’s latest book is the riveting story of the development of the Nobel Prize-winning technology for editing genes, driving breakthroughs in science, medicine, and agriculture, while igniting ethical controversies about designer babies and the future of humanity.
Kevin has 30 years’ experience in science publishing and public speaking. He is the founding editor of Nature Genetics and the founding Executive Editor of The CRISPR Journal. He is currently spearheading the launch of a new marquee science journal called GEN Biotechnology in 2022.
Kevin’s previous books include Breakthrough: The Race for the Breast Cancer Gene; Cracking the Genome (translated into 15 languages), an inside account of the race for the Human Genome Project; and The $1,000 Genome, which details the revolution in personalized medicine and consumer genetics. He also collaborated with Nobel laureate Jim Watson and Andrew Berry on an updated edition of DNA: The Story of the Genetic Revolution.
Kevin graduated with a degree in Biochemistry from Oxford University and took his PhD in molecular genetics from the University of London. He hung up his lab coat after two fairly inconsequential postdocs at MIT and Harvard Medical School. Kevin won a Guggenheim Fellowship for science writing in 2017 to support his research on Editing Humanity.