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Friday, June 3, 2016

Secret Harvard meeting on synthetic human genomes incites ethics debate

By Joel Achenbach
The Washington Post
Originally published May 13, 2016

About 150 scientists assembled at Harvard on Tuesday for an off-the-record, no-media-allowed discussion of how to create, from scratch, an intact genome, including the genetic code of a human being. The idea is to go beyond "reading" genetic material to actively "writing" it, George Church, a Harvard Medical School researcher who helped organized the event, told The Post in an interview Friday morning.

Scientists can synthesize DNA chemically, and these techniques could ultimately lead to complete genomes that could be implanted in cells for research purposes. No one should panic just yet about mad scientists running amok: The researchers are not talking about making synthetic human beings. But the gathering drew a rebuke from two academics who heard about the event and didn't think it should have been held behind closed doors.

The article is here.
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