Washington, DC - On March 13 the Biophysical Society (BPS) and Congressman Bill Foster (D-IL-11) hosted Dr. Jennifer Doudna for a CRISPR-101 Congressional Briefing. The briefing received interest from more than 60 Congressional offices. The briefing took place from 10:30 to 11:30am in the Rayburn House Office Building's Gold Room.
"It is crucial that policymakers understand both the opportunities and the challenges that the CRISPR/Cas9 technology holds for our future," said Rep. Foster. "The CRISPR technology we heard about today has the potential to positively impact global efforts to combat climate change, disease, and hunger. It also has the potential to be used for unregulated genetic engineering of humans and to enable dangerous new classes of biological weapons. It's critical that we continue to support basic science so that we can maintain our leadership as a country of innovation and discovery."
Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats or CRISPR technology is a powerful tool for editing genomes. CRISPR, which was developed from DNA sequences found in bacteria, has proven to be faster, cheaper, and more efficient than previous gene-editing tools. Given its enormous potential in agriculture and in curing serious human diseases, including cancer, CRISPR gene editing technology has led to much excitement in the research community.
"It was a pleasure to host a former BPS keynote speaker Dr. Jennifer Doudna today for this important briefing," said Jennifer Pesanelli, Executive Officer, BPS. "Every day, our members apply the theories and methods of physics to further our understanding of how biological phenomena and systems work. Dr. Doudna's work has sparked global interest in CRISPR and its potential to help us combat global hunger and seemingly incurable diseases. We greatly appreciate Congressman Foster's continued leadership and championing of science on Capitol Hill."
As an internationally renowned and award-winning professor of Chemistry and Molecular and Cell Biology at UC-Berkeley, Dr. Doudna and her colleagues rocked the research world in 2012 by first describing CRISPR gene editing, widely acknowledged as the scientific breakthrough of the century, and strongly advocating for its responsible use.
"I appreciate the opportunity to join the Biophysical Society and Congressman Bill Foster to discuss CRISPR genome editing," said Dr. Doudna. "This revolutionary technology is the result of fundamental scientific research. As we consider how to ethically and safely apply CRISPR, it is important that policymakers continue to support basic research so that scientists can develop the vital medical cures, better food production, and alternative energy resources that our society needs."
The briefing provided a broad overview of the technology and discussed its ethical use and patenting issues.
The Biophysical Society, founded in 1958, is a professional, scientific Society established to encourage development and dissemination of knowledge in biophysics. The Society promotes growth in this expanding field through its annual meeting, monthly journal, and committee and outreach activities. Its 9,000 members are located throughout the U.S. and the world, where they teach and conduct research in colleges, universities, laboratories and government agencies. http://www.