On the metaphorical origins of gene drives

This morning I woke up to a bit of chat about ‘gene drive‘ – this year’s science breakthrough of the year –, first on twitter, then on the radio. This made me think about the use of terms like gene drive, gene driver, gene driving and where they come from. It also made me think …

Gene editing, metaphors and responsible language use

Last week I was following the progress of the International Summit on Human Gene Editing, which took place in Washington between 1 and 3 December, 2015. On the last day, I was looking at my twitter timeline and saw that Megan Allyse (a former PhD student) had posted information on a special issue devoted to …

The book of life: Reading, writing and editing

I have been observing the use of the ‘book of life’ metaphor in genetics and genomics since the year 2000, when it was used to announce that the human genome, our entire DNA, had been roughly sequenced. The Human Genome Project had begun in 1990 and was completed in 2003. Its achievement consisted in finding …

The colours of biotechnology

I have recently been musing about images used to make science public and wondered what images are out there for synthetic biology. I knew that in the past cloning was visually represented by ‘Dolly the sheep’ or ‘armies of little Hitlers’, nano found its visual incarnation in nanobots and fantastic voyage, but what images would …

Science, hype and fun

In one of my early posts for this blog I talked about hype and about how hype can be used honestly and fraudulently. In one of my later posts I talked about CRISPR and how scientists are trying to deal with this gene editing technology responsibly. So I should have known better! Following the fun …

Ta(l)king responsibility

In social science and policy circles there has been a lot of talk about Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI). However, nobody quite knows yet what this means and how it works in the context of harsh economic realities. In the meantime, natural scientists have taken responsibility for their research and innovations in the context of …

From recombinant DNA to genome editing: A history of responsible innovation?

In this post I shall report on a recent call for ethical and regulatory reflection by scientists engaged in a new genomic technology. I’ll then put this into a historical context of previous initiatives of that kind, and finally ask whether this can be called ‘Responsible Research and Innovation’. CRISPR Recently, a new controversy has …