February 5, 2021

Designer Babies? A Conversation w/ Henry (Hank) Greely

Aaron Freiwald, Managing Partner of Freiwald Law and host of the weekly podcast, Good Law | Bad Law, is joined by Professor Henry T. (Hank) Greely, of Stanford Law School, to discuss gene editing, the bioethics involved in gene manipulation, the legal considerations of developing new biotechnologies, CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats), the line between good and bad, and quite literally, the future of humanity.  


What does the birth of babies whose embryos have gone through genome editing mean—for science and for all of us? Professor Hank Greely explores this question and more in his new book, CRISPR People: The Science and Ethics of Editing Humans. Hank’s new book comes out February 16th and today he and Aaron discuss CRISPR capabilities, the potential “butterfly affect” editing genes may have, and what the ethical concerns are surrounding gene manipulation. In his upcoming book, Professor Greely tells the fascinating story of He Jiankui’s 2018 human experiment and its consequences; he explains what He Jiankui did, how he did it, and how the public and other scientists learned about and reacted to this unprecedented genetic intervention. Today, Hank talks about this further, and the conversation revolves around He Jiankui’s 2018 experiment, today’s COVID vaccines, DNA, RNA, and MRNA. Hank explains how he feels about “slippery slopes” and expresses his opinions and predictions about what will happen with this new technology. Are we playing God?


A graduate of both Stanford University and Yale Law School, Hank Greely is the Dean F. and Kate Edelman Johnson Professor of Law; Director of the Center for Law and the Biosciences; Professor, by courtesy, of Genetics, Chair of the Steering Committee of the Center for Biomedical Ethics; and the Director of the Stanford Program in Neuroscience and Society. Professor Greely specializes in the ethical, legal, and social implications of new biomedical technologies, particularly those related to genetics, assisted reproduction, neuroscience, or stem cell research. He is a founder and immediate past president of the International Neuroethics Society; a member of the Multi-Council Working Group of the NIH’s BRAIN Initiative, whose Neuroethics Working Group he co-chairs; chair of the Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues Committee of the Earth BioGenome Project; and chair of California’s Human Stem Cell Research Advisory Committee.


Before joining the Stanford Law School faculty, Professor Greely was a partner at Tuttle & Taylor, served as a staff assistant to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, and as special assistant to the general counsel of the U.S. Department of Defense. He served as a law clerk to Justice Potter Stewart of the U.S. Supreme Court and to Judge John Minor Wisdom of the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.


Listen now!


To learn more about Professor Greely, please click here.

To check out Professor Greely’s 2016 publication, The End of Sex and the Future of Human Reproduction, please click here.

To order Professor Greely’s brand-new book, CRISPR People: The Science and Ethics of Editing Humans, please click here. There are more ordering options available here. *Note: Professor Greely’s new book will be released on Feb. 16th


Host: Aaron Freiwald

Guest: Henry T. (Hank) Greely


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