CRISPRcon 2020 Examines Race, Gene Editing and Health Equity
Building on its opening theme’s discussions around journalism and indigenous perspectives, CRISPRcon 2020 partnered with Howard University for its second theme, which tackled race and health equity. The two sessions in this theme explored the relationship among race, gene editing, and COVID-19 and opportunities to responsibly innovate with the meaningful inclusion and amplification of Black voices. The first session on Sept. 15 featured a panel examining whether CRISPR moves us toward health equity. Panelists set the stage for the discussion by first highlighting the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on communities of color.
“Of course, everyone is aware that the COVID-19 crisis and pandemic is affecting everyone, but Black Americans and communities of color are experiencing the brunt of the crisis,” said Rod McCullom, a science and technology writer who moderated the discussion.
“You can’t even get to access until you educate a community. A failed clinical trial is not going to bring about a product,” said LaTasha Lee, vice president, social and clinical research & development at the National Minority Quality Forum.
“The more we include individuals from diverse populations that may have more genetic variation, the more we understand about how this process can impact individuals like them and others long term,” said Roberts.
“The power of genome-wide associations is really in the numbers,” said Easter. “What you really need is to have large populations of people to be able to be confident in the assignment of particular genes and their association with particular disorders.”
The panelists also touched upon whether heritable genome editing in the United States would or should be permitted and concerns over gene editing reducing genetic variance, among other topics. Watch the entire session below.