This workshop on synthetic gene drives aims to gather biologists,
ethicists, risk assessors, regulators and social scientists
from various backgrounds
to discuss interdisciplinary aspects of gene drives.
It will feature various sessions: molecular biology, evolutionary ecology, theoretical models,
risk assessment, ethical issues, governance and social issues.
The workshop will take place online on June 21-24, 2021.
It features invited talks (20min talk+10min questions) and contributed talks (10min talk+5min questions).
At the end of each day, we will have a one-hour open discussion among all participants.
Two experts will select a few key outstanding questions in the field and lead the discussion.
To view the list of questions that will be addressed during each open disscusion, please click here.
To ask questions after each talk or to participate to the open discussion, all attendees will be able to use the Q&A panel.
The chairs will open their microphone so that they can speak directly.
We ask participants to follow the code of conduct of the workshop, available here.
To view the program in your time zone, please click here.
Zoom links for attendees, speakers and chairs have been sent on June 18-19.
If you have not received a link even though you have registered, please contact the organizers asap.
Registration is now closed.
- What are the latest developments in gene drive research?
- What are the current limits of our knowledge on gene drives, of our ability to predict their dynamics and their potential effects on the ecosystem? ie. what are the known unknowns and the unknown unknowns?
- How can ethical considerations guide the work of biologists, risk assessors and regulators?
- How can we assess the risks associated with the development and use of gene drives?
- Who should be assessing these risks?
- What are the current regulatory frameworks for gene drives at different levels (Convention on Biodiversity, African Union, European Union, etc.)? How should they evolve in the future?
- How to empower the public and local communities so that they can actively take part in the decision process?
This is a tentative list of speakers (✔ : confirmed)
- Astrid Hoermann (Molecular biology, insects) ✔
- Ying Yan (Molecular biology, insects) ✔
- Jackson Champer (Molecular biology, insects) ✔
- Rebeca Carballar-Lejarazú (Molecular biology, insects) ✔
- Andie Smidler (Molecular biology, insects) ✔
- Eric Marois (Molecular biology, insects) ✔
- Margareth L. Capurro (Molecular biology, social issues, insects) ✔
- Donald M. Gardiner (Molecular biology, non-insects) ✔
- Anna Lindholm (Evolutionary ecology, non-insects) ✔
- John M. Marshall (Theoretical models) ✔
- Chaitanya Gokhale (Theoretical models) ✔
- Fred Gould (Theoretical models) ✔
- Ricarda Steinbrecher (Risk assessment) ✔
- Willy Tonui (Risk assessment) ✔
- Samson Simon (Risk assessment) ✔
- John Mumford (Risk assessment) ✔
- Paul B. Thompson (Ethics) ✔
- Darryl Macer (Ethics) ✔
- Nienke de Graeff (Ethics) ✔
- Dominic Schuler (Governance) ✔
- Jeremy Ouedraogo (Governance) ✔
- Ilaria Ciabatti (Governance) ✔
- Florian Rabitz (Governance) ✔
- Damaris Matoke-Muhia (Social issues) ✔
- Christophe Boëte (Social issues) ✔
- Jennifer Baltzegar (Social issues) ✔
- Kevin Esvelt (Molecular biology, Social issues) ✔
- Mathieu Legros (Theoretical models) ✔
- Léna Klay (Theoretical models) ✔
- Nicky Faber (Theoretical models) ✔
- Bruce Hay (Molecular biology, insects) ✔
- Michael Smanski (Molecular biology, insects) ✔
- Andrew Hammond (Molecular biology, insects) ✔
- Yann Devos (Risk assessment) ✔
- Sarah Hartley (Risk assessment, Social issues) ✔
Leaders: Ethan Bier/Éric Marois
- Are there significant mutagenic effects of Cas9 / gRNA transgenes?
How would one ascertain that undesired off-target mutations will not increase mosquito vector competence by accumulating mutations in immune components over time ?
- How much should pathogen evolution in response to a population modification GD be a concern ? Is it any different than pathogen evolution in response to drug pressure and therefore, is it any reason to hesitate on the GD front? Are evolved pathogens that circumvent a GD likely to be more dangerous?
- What factor should be considered when evaluating GDs on a case-by-case basis: efficiency; horizontal transfer potential; inadvertent genome rearrangement potential; interactions with other Cas9 systems?
- How to balance potential risks of GDs with the known consequences of not using them?
- How to distinguish ideological concerns from scientific concerns: where is the border ?
For example, is horizontal transfer a true concern? How do gene drive compare to other globally acting interventions (e.g., climate change; air or water quality; ocean fishing)?
Leaders: Jim Bull/Florence Débarre
- Which level of realism should models include? (spatial and temporal population
structure, inbreeding depression, hybridization, etc.) Are simpler, conceptual / qualitative models useful outside of for theoreticians?
- What are the questions that you have on gene drives to which a mathematical / computational model could provide answers?
- Can mathematical / computer simulation models be used for risk assessment; should they?
- With engineering seemingly accomplished, what biological hurdles do we think may yet thwart the success of gene drives in nature?
- Gene drives are usually thought of for simple population suppression (suppression drives) or blocking parasite transmission from an intermediate host (modification drives). What kind of novel ecological uses can we contemplate for gene drives?
- Gene drives are intrinsically single genes or few genes with major effect. How might we use them to modify quantitative traits or suites of traits?
Leaders: Ricarda Steinbrecher/Werner Schenkel
- Is there a fundamental difference in risks and risk assessment of gene drive modified organisms compared to other GMOs? Keywords: Reversibility, receiving environment, comparators, use of models.
- How can we define the receiving environment and what will serve as 'comparator' for gene drive organisms (GDOs/GDMOs)?
- Should benefits be considered during risk assessment?
- What weight should ethical considerations have in decision making?
Leaders: Florian Rabitz/Christophe Boëte
- Considering their differences to conventional GMOs, in how far are existing regulatory frameworks at national, regional and international levels adequate for the governance of gene drives?
- How could a real consensus framework be developed for the governance of GD organisms given the fact that the field is already loaded with difficulties, some of them being even created by its developers, supporters and communicators?
- What lessons for the governance of gene drives could be drawn from other technological fields, including high-risk technologies such as nuclear energy, nanotechnology or climate engineering?
- What can explain the major role of non-state actors in the development of GD and the apparent limited role of UN agencies involved in Health, Food and Agriculture and Biodiversity (WHO, FAO, UNEP, UNESCO…)?
- Considering the current political process towards the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, which feasible, effective and fair ways exist for the governance of gene drives within the context of the Convention on Biological Diversity?
Please note that the schedule below is displayed in your own time zone (e.g. meeting starts at 15:00pm on June 21 if your time zone is Central European Summer Time).
💡 To load the program in your Google Calendar, scroll down and click on the icon at the bottom right of the calendar.
Code of conduct
Open on a full page
When the speakers agreed to it, their talks were recorded. The videos will be available online until July 16th.
Registration is now closed.
If you missed the deadline but want to attend, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 2021-04-14: Registration opens
- 2021-05-30: Registration for contributed talks closes
- 2021-06-18: Registration for other attendees closes