Conversations About Ethics

Harnessing the Genome: Gene Editing, Psychiatry and Moral Bioenhancement (Lunch Seminar @ The Ecumenical Center)

Julian Savulescu, PhD

Gene editing promises to eradicate single-gene diseases like Huntington’s Disease in the not-too-distant future. But in time it could also enable us to make fine-grained changes to complex polygenic characteristics, including personality. Medical research always carries risk, and this even more true for gene editing, which makes heritable changes. While there are potential trade-offs. One enduring fear is that diversity will be lost as the range of acceptable traits narrows. Whether we should use gene editing in humans is a matter of urgent ethical debate. How we should use it, if we do, raises a series of complex issues that will challenge our agreed ethical principles and regulatory frameworks. Although the technology is in its infancy, the time to start addressing the ethical and regulatory issues is now.

Dr. Savulescu will explore the potential trade-offs that would be made by attempts to genetically engineer apparently adverse personality traits, including between individually beneficial traits and collectively beneficial traits.


Julian Savulescu, PhDUehiro Chair in Practical Ethics Director, Oxford Oehiro Centre for Practical Ethics Co-Director, Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities University of Oxford. 

Dr. Savulescu, is a leader in medical and practical ethics, with more than 400 publications, an h index of 63 and over 15,000 citations in total. He spent 10 years as Editor of the Journal of Medical Ethics, the highest impact journal in the field, and is founding editor of Journal of Practical Ethics, an open access journal in Practical Ethics.

 Also join us for the evening keynote on Harnessing the Genome: Ethics of Gene Editing Now and the Future. Register for Evening Keynote Here

Learning Objectives:

  • Participants will be able to articulate ethical reasons for and against pursuing gene-editing trials in humans.
  • Participants will be able to describe potential impacts of human gene-editing on individuals directly affected by the technology, members of society who may be affected in less direct ways, and humanity in general.
  • Participants will be able to describe justifications for and objections to moral bioenhancement.

Continuing Education:

For both the luncheon keynote and evening keynote:

CME:This activity has been approved for AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.

†This presentation meets the Texas Medical Board criteria for formal continuing medical education involving the study of medical ethics and/or professional responsibility.

CEUThe Ecumenical Center is an approved provider of continuing education by the State of Texas for the following: LPC, LMFT, LSW, LCSW AND LMSW

The lunch seminar provides 2.0 Ethics Continuing Education Units, and the evening keynote provides 1.0 Ethics Continuing Education Unit.

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Resource List

This resource list brings together websites, videos, audio recordings, books, and articles to supplement the workshop and lecture.

By Our Speaker : Unfortunately this section has no resources.

Dipping Your Toe (Introductory Information) : Unfortunately this section has no resources.

Wading Waist High (Intermediate Resources) : Unfortunately this section has no resources.

Taking a Deep Dive (Advanced Materials) : Unfortunately this section has no resources.

Access to Materials

Freely available Online
Available through the San Antonio Public Library
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Available through the Briscoe Library at the UTHSCSA Faculty
Faculty, students, and staff may access these materials remotely using their Health Science Center log-in. Non-affiliated individuals and members of the general public may access these materials in-person by visiting the library and registering for guest access. Off-site access is not available for non-affiliated individuals and members of the general public due to licensing restrictions.