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Science, Ethics & Governance of Human Genome Editing

Explore the exciting implications of Human Genome Editing, including the scientific and medical possibilities, governance and ethical approaches.

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CIVIS focus area
Health
Open to
  • Bachelor's
  • Master's
  • PhD
Field of studies
  • Law
  • Medicine and Health
  • Social Science and humanities
Type
  • Blended Intensive Programmes (BIP)
Course dates
14 June - 22 July 2024

The last decade has seen a dramatic increase in the pace of scientific development of genome editing technologies, particularly the advances enabled by 'the CRISPR revolution'. One area of immense potential is the use of genome editing technologies - as well as other related DNA and RNA technologies - in emerging human interventions, potential therapeutics and cutting-edge research.

Alongside the potential benefits, there are a number of ethical and legal issues that arise, posing challenges for the development of robust governance of such technologies. This Blended Intensive Program will extensively explore the ethical implications of this emerging (and related) technology, alongside the legal/ regulatory and societal impacts while importantly noting the scientific and medical potential and emerging developments. 

Main topics addressed

  • The science, the hype and the hopes of human genome editing
  • DNA versus RNA therapies
  • Clinical translation of gene and RNA therapy approaches
  • Virotherapy
  • Somatic versus germline and heritable interventions
  • Research and translational ethics
  • Distributive justice, health costs and political philosophy
  • Genome editing and population-level bioethics
  • Treatment versus enhancements
  • New genomics or old eugenics
  • Feminist perspectives on genome editing
  • Genome editing and disability
  • Law and governance of human genome editing
  • Public engagement and calls for consensus

Learning outcomes

  1. An intensive understanding of the ethical issues involved in human genome editing.
  2. A strong understanding of the range of ethical, legal/regulatory, scientific, and social considerations that interact in human genome editing (and related technologies).
  3. An awareness and appreciation of the ideals and experience of co-learning, participant-led discussion, deliberative discussion, and other approaches to join with traditional top-down lecture-based learning, to further the goals of active learning and engagement.
  4. An enrichment in critical thinking and in bioethical reflection, in addition to presentation and academic writing/ethical argumentation skills.
  5. An opportunity to become co-authors in bioethical paper(s) to be submitted to reputable journal(s) after the event.
Dates: 14 June - 22 July 2024 Total workload: 125 hours
Format: Blended ECTS: 5*
Location: Tübingen, Germany Language: English (B2)
Contact: oliver.feeney@uni-tuebingen.de  

*Recognition of ECTS depends on your home university.

Physical mobility

The physical mobility session will take place between 18-22 July 2024 (with activities in town on Sunday).

This programme will be delivered through a mix of lecture and deliberative workshops, with a range of lecturers over the days (9:00 AM CET - 6:00 PM CET). The focus will be first on the science, then on the ethics and the governance of human genome editing. This will result in a strong understanding of the range of interrelated ethical, legal/ regulatory, scientific.

Social considerations in human genome editing (and related technologies) will be achieved by active class engagement through a mix of lectures, discussions and workshops. Students will also get to experience Tübingen with social and field educational activities:

  • the castle museum visit, including the castle's laboratory (where, in 1869, Friedrich Miescher made the groundbreaking discovery of a substance which he named “nucleic” – today known as DNA and RNA);
  • boating/ punting on the beautiful river Neckar;
  • a tour of Tübingen's Old Town, with a focus on learning the city's history in medicine;
  • a pub quiz in the popular Café Haag;
  • a movie night with popcorn and soft drinks;
  • an event dinner in a traditional Tübingen restaurant.

There will also be a one-day symposium that will allow students to present their work in a friendly symposium atmosphere, leading to a generation of ideas for preparing a co-authored paper (or collection of papers in a special issue proposal) - thus the students will have the chance to be published.

Virtual part

Virtual sessions (one-two 90 min live Zoom sessions per week) will take place between 14 June - 12 July. There will also be some self-paced learning via online links for video and articles.

  • 1 hour - initial deliberative polling;
  • 10 hours - online classes/ guest lectures;
  • 4 hours - additional learning support.

The virtual sessions will cover a range of topics, including an introduction to the Programme brief history of genome editing, to the science, ethics, and governance, as well as other important topics. The virtual sessions will also allow the engagement with the wider groups from around the world, including patient groups, and/ or other important voices from the wider community.

Requirements

This course is open to Bachelor's, Master's and PhD's students at CIVIS member universities, with high interest in Medicine and/ or Law. 

Participants should also have a good level of written and spoken English, critical thinking, public speaking skills, logical expression, generous openness to the ideas of others, and ability and willingness to see different sides to arguments.

 

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.

Students from CIVIS’ strategic partner universities in Africa cannot apply for participation in this course.

Application process

Send your application by filling in the online application form by 25 February 2024, also including:

  • CV
  • motivation letter
  • level of english (According to CEFR) - B2

The applications will be evaluated according to the:

  • quality, clarity and detail of motivation;

  • quality/ suitability of background, explained clearly and concisely, and supported by the CV.

Therefore, please:

  • explain your motivation in applying for this course, by highlighting your interest and academic (or other) background, knowledge, education and/ or experience of human genome editing (eg. science, philosophy, ethics, medicine, law, etc);
  • expand the above in the uploaded motivation letter (max. 1000 words) and ensure your CV clearly supports this;
  • let us know what you hope to achieve from this course.

Apply now

Assessment

One part of the assessment will be based on survey monkey responses to ethically problematic scenarios or assessments of moral decision-making.

In addition, there will be an assessment of the student PowerPoint presentations, and overall engagement throughout the event.

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.

Prof. Julia Skokowa is 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 is 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 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.

Prof. Dr. Marius Ueffing is the Director of the Institute for Ophthalmic Research and Co-Chair of the Centre for Ophthalmology at the University Medical Center in Tübingen, one of the largest centres for ophthalmology in Europe. His research combines cellular and molecular physiology with genome and proteome analysis to analyse the impact of genetic and environmental factors on human health on a systemic level. The focus of the Ueffing lab is neurodegeneration in the retina with specific emphasis on the molecular mechanisms of disease towards the development of targeted therapy.

Prof. Dr. phil. Hans-Jörg Ehni has a background in philosophy with a focus on moral philosophy and medical ethics. He is currently deputy director of the Institute for History and Ethics of Medicine, University of Tübingen. His main areas of research are ethics and ageing and ethics of biomedical research involving human subjects. He is a member of the ethics commission of the federal board of physicians, Baden Wuerttemberg, and of the clinical ethics committee, University Clinic Tübingen.

Dr. Heidi Howard is a researcher at Lund University (Sweden) and University College Cork (Ireland), working on the policy, ethical, legal, and social aspects of new technologies, especially in genetics and genomics. Her research focuses on using multi- and interdisciplinary approaches with a large emphasis on empirical research to study the challenges and implications of novel technologies (e.g. gene editing, next generation sequencing, Artificial intelligence in health care) and their responsible translation for end users and society             

Prof. Robert Ranisch is Junior Professor of Medical Ethics at the Faculty of Health Sciences Brandenburg, University of Potsdam, and head of the research unit "Ethics of Genome Editing" at the Institute for Ethics and History of Medicine, University of Tübingen. His areas of interest include biomedical ethics, genetics and ethics, digital ethics (with a focus on medicine), intergenerational justice, organizational ethics, and moral theory.

 Prof. Greg Bognar is 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 2014/2022) and co-editor of Aging without Agism? Conceptual Puzzles and Policy Proposals (Oxford 2023). His main research interests are in bioethics, normative ethics and political philosophy. He has worked on priority setting in health care, the ethical issues of demographic change and population ageing, and distributive justice in public health.

Prof. 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’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. Oliver 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.