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The science, ethics and governance of human genome editing

Explore the ethical implications of Human Genome Editing, including the scientific and medical possibilities and various ethical approaches

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CIVIS focus area
Open to
  • Bachelor's
  • Master's
  • Phd
Field of studies
  • Law
  • Medicine and Health
  • Social Science and humanities
  • Blended Intensive Programmes (BIP)
Course dates
12 June to 31 July 2023

The last decade has seen a dramatic increase in the pace of scientific development of genome editing technologies, particularly highlighted by the advances enabled by CRISPR-Cas9. One area of immense potential is the use of genome editing technologies in humans. Alongside the potential benefits, there are a number of ethical and legal issues that arise, posing challenges for the development of robust governance of this technology.

This Blended Intensive Program will explore the ethical implications of this emerging technology, noting the scientific and medical possibilities, and the various ethical and legal approaches and implications as well as the options for its effective governance and regulation. This Blended Intensive Program will combine lectures by experts in the field, alongside extensive interactive deliberative workshops, a one-day symposium, as well as activities around Tübingen's historic Old Town (including a visit to the German Castle where DNA was first discovered).

Main topics addressed

  • A brief history of human genome editing
  • The science and potential of genome editing (and related technologies) in research and human therapeutics
  • The ethics of genome editing - moral distinctions and red lines?
  • Genome editing and social justice
  • Translational ethics: from bench to the bedside
  • New genomics or old eugenics
  • Feminist perspectives on genome editing
  • Genome editing, diversity and disability
  • European law and governance of human genome editing
  • Public engagment and the calls for consensus (e.g. WHO 2021 Report)
  • Novel issues: e.g. Non-identity problem; Patents and ethical licencing; prevention and incidental enhancements

Learning outcomes

  • An intensive introduction to the ethical landscape related to human genome editing
  • An extensive understanding of the key ethical concepts and theories in the context of human genome editing
  • An important appreciation of the range of ethical, legal, scientific, and social considerations that interact in human genome editing
  • An understanding of the main issues facing questions of governance and regulation, nationally and internationally
  • An enrichment in critical thinking and in bioethical reflection, in addition to presentation and academic writing/ethical argumentation skills
  • An opportunity to become co-authors in a bioethical paper or special issue that will be submitted to a reputable journal after the event
Dates: 12 June - 31 July 2023 Total workload: 90 hours
Format: Blended ECTS: 3*
Location: Tübingen, Germany Language: English (B2) 

* Recognition of ECTS depends on your home university.

Physical mobility

The physical event will take place in Tübinge, Germany, from 27 to 31 July 2023. Each day will be a mix of lecture and deliberative workshops under the following themes.

  • Thursday 27 July: ‘The Science - current and future possibilities’ (incl. the Gene and RNA Therapy Center (GRTC))
  • Friday 28 July: ‘Ethical and social justice issues arising from human genome editing'
  • Saturday 29 July: ‘Law, Governance and Public Engagement’ 
  • Sunday 30 July: ‘Tübingen Excursion - city of ethics’ (incl. walking/boating tour, visit to the Castle Museum)
  • Monday 31 July: Visiting Student presentations, followed by event dinner

The one-day symposium will allow students to present their work in a friendly symposium atmosphere.

Virtual part

The virtual part involves the following virtual sessions (2 hour online talks and discussion sessions):

  • Week starting 12 June 2023: 'Introduction to the Programme (brief history of genome editing (science, ethics and governance)' 
  • Week starting 19 June 2023: 'Introduction to the Science'
  • Week starting 26 June 2023: 'Introduction to the Ethics'
  • Week starting 3 July 2023: 'Introduction to the Law and Governance'
  • Week starting 10 July 2023: 'Building capacities (argumentation, speaking, presenting)'

In addition, there will be additional online events as part of the "EGE Online Ethics of Genome Editing Research Unit’s Online Engagement Series" featuring exciting discussions by international experts in the ethics of human genome editing.


This course is open to Bachelors', Masters', and PhD students at CIVIS member universities

Academic pre-requisites are the following:

  • Some academic knowledge and experience of human genome editing (eg science, philosophy, law, ethics, medicine, etc)
  • Relevant classes or other activities undertaken
  • Good academic past performance
  • Ability to articulate your thoughts and reasoning in a clear and friendly manner
  • An ability to listen to all sides of an argument

NB: Visiting Students - Erasmus Funding Eligibility

To be eligible for your selected CIVIS programme, you must be a fully enrolled student at your CIVIS home university at the time you will be undertaking the programme. Click here to learn more about the eligibility criteria.

Application process

Interested students should apply by filling in the application form by 28 February 2023

You should include the following:

  • Motivating statement- letter highlighting your interest in applying for the programme in the science, ethics and governance of human genome editing (esp. the ethical issues, but also legal, scientific, etc)
  • Short one- page statement describing your academic (or other) background, knowledge and/or experience of human genome editing (eg science, philosophy, ethics, medicine, law, etc)
  • Statement highlighting your top 1-2 hopes and 1-2 concerns over human genome editing (current and future).
  • Relevant classes or other activities undertaken
  • Good academic past performance
  • Good level of English (minimum B2)

Any clarifications or questions, please contact the Programme co-ordinator, Dr Oliver Feeney:

Apply now 


The course will be assessed using online evaluation forms at the end of the physical program, including both standardized (multiple choice) items and open questions in addition to an assessment of student PowerPoint presentations, and overall engagement.

Blended Intensive Programme

This CIVIS course is a Blended Intensive Programme (BIP): a new format of Erasmus+ mobility which combines online teaching with a short trip to another campus to learn alongside students and professors across Europe. Click here to learn more about CIVIS BIPs.

GDPR Consent

The CIVIS alliance and its member universities will treat the information you provide with respect. Please refer to our privacy policy for more information on our privacy practices. By applying to this course you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

Dr. Oliver Feeney (University of Tübingen)

Dr. Feeney’s primary research is on the ethical, legal, and social (justice) implications of biomedical technologies, particularly the ethics and governance of genome editing; ethics of human enhancement; fostering trust with participatory involvement in science and medicine, and the role of patents in the context of new technologies. His PhD on Genetics and Justice (2009) combined political philosophy and bioethics and was awarded that year’s National Basil Chubb Prize for best PhD thesis in any field of politics in Ireland. His publications have appeared in Bioethics, Developing World Bioethics, Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, and The American Journal of Bioethics. 

Members of the newly established Gene and RNA Therapy Center (GRTC), University Hospital Tübingen

Prof. Julia Skokowa (University Hospital Tübingen) 

Prof. Julia Skokowa MD, Ph.D. is Professor and Head of the Division of Translational Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine II - Haematology, Oncology, Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology, University Hospital Tübingen. Her expertise and interest in gene therapy covers novel therapeutic modalities of severe congenital neutropenia using gene editing; disease modelling of severe congenital neutropenia in vitro and in vivo; design and development of novel therapeutic proteins for gene editing; establishment of novel gene therapy delivery routes for hematopoietic stem cells and development of AAV constructs with tropism for hematopoietic stem cells.

Prof. Dr. Ulrich Lauer (University Tübingen)

Ulrich Lauer, Dr. Med is Professor and Deputy Director of the Dept. of Medical Oncology and Pneumology, University Tübingen and Head of the Virotherapy Center in Tübingen. His expertise and interest in gene therapy covers suicide gene-enhanced 2nd generation measles vaccine virus oncolytic virotherapeutic compound (completely developed form bench-to-bedside at University Tübingen, Germany); Germany ́s top Clinical Virotherapy Center carrying out numerous Phase I/II virotherapy trials; AAV gene complementation in hepatic disorders (e.g., Phase I clinical trials in Morbus Wilson); Sendai Virus (SeV) based novel vaccine type inducing sterilizing immunity against pandemic threats caused by viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) or other respiratory pathogens.

Dr. med. Reka Haraszti (University Tübingen)

Reka Haraszti, Dr. med; PhD., is Junior Group Leader & Hematology/Oncology Fellow in the Department of Medicine II, University Tübingen. Her expertise and interest in gene therapy covers Chemically modified siRNAs; Extracellular vesicles for gene/RNA therapy delivery; Immunomodulation via siRNAs; siRNA pharmacokinetics; and Mesenchymal stem cells.

Visiting lecturers in ethics and governance from Stockholm, Madrid, Aix-en-Provence, Marseille and Bucharest

Dr. Greg Bognar (Stockholm University)

Greg Bognar is Associate Professor of Practical Philosophy at Stockholm University and Senior Researcher at the Stockholm Centre for Healthcare Ethics (CHE). He is the co-author of The Ethics of Health Care Rationing (Routledge, 2014, second edition 2022) and co-editor of Aging without Agism? Conceptual Puzzles and Policy Proposals (forthcoming from Oxford University Press). His main research interests are in population-level bioethics and politics, philosophy, and economics (PPE), particularly in priority settings in health care, the ethical issues of demographic change and population ageing, and issues of distributive justice in public health.

Prof. José María Carrascosa (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)

José María Carrascosa obtained his PhD at the Universidad Autónoma in Madrid (UAM) in 1983 and moved to Munich for a postdoctoral stay at the Institute for Diabetes Research. Back at UAM in 1986, he continued his research on diabetes and obesity-associated ageing, becoming project leader in 1991. He became Associated Professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in 1989 and Full Professor in 2010. He has taught bioethics and science ethics to undergraduate and postgraduate students since 2008. He is member of the Research Ethics Committee of UAM and was Dean of the Faculty of Sciences (2013–2021).

Dr. Aurélie Mahalatchimy (Aix-Marseille Université)

Aurélie Mahalatchimy’s main research interest is biomedical innovation, especially the uses of human genes, cells and tissues for therapeutic, scientific, commercial and industrial purposes. She has a Doctorate in law from the Law Faculty of Toulouse, France. Her PhD thesis was on the impact of European Union law on the regulation of advanced therapy medicinal products in France and in the UK. She is permanent Researcher at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS, chargée de recherche), Aix Marseille University, Toulon University, Pau & Pays Adour University, International, Comparative and European laws (DICE- CERIC) research lab, Aix-en-Provence, France.       

Dr. Emilian Mihailov (University of Bucharest)

Emilian Mihailov is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Bucharest, and director of the Research Centre in Applied Ethics, within the Faculty of Philosophy. He has published on moral psychology, neuroethics, the ethics of enhancement and experimental bioethics in leading journals such as American Journal of Bioethics, Science and Engineering Ethics, Bioethics, Consciousness & Cognition, Review of Philosophy and Psychology. Emilian Mihailov is the director of the ENHATEC project, which aims to explore the ethical issues raised by enhancement technologies and how moral enhancement can address the existential threat of climate change.

Tübingen lecturers in ethics

Katharina Trettenbach (University of Tübingen/University of Potsdam.)

With a background between biochemistry, psychology, neuroscience and medicine, Katharina has been a member of the research group Ethics of Genome Editing at the Institute for the Ethics and History of Medicine since 2017, where she has been pursuing doctoral research since 2020. Her dissertation project deals with the ethical challenges of translational research in Germline Genome Editing. Katharina also works at the Department for Medical Ethics at the University of Potsdam, working on medical ethics and digitization. Aside from research ethics, her research interests include neuroethics, the ethics of (bio)technologies and their intersections with the philosophy of medicine.

Dr. Uta Müller (University of Tübingen)

Dr. Uta Müller, research assistant, International Centre for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities (IZEW), Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen. She studied philosophy and political sciences at the universities of Heidelberg and Munich. Uta Müller is head of the department “Ethics and Education” of the IZEW and responsible for the interdisciplinary study program of the IZEW. Her research focuses on various issues in Applied Ethics, especially questions of didactics of philosophy and ethics, and ethical questions of the social sciences. She is also responsible for the certificate study program “Ethik in der Praxis” (for all students) at the Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen.