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Walter Isaacson on Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing and the Future of the Human Race

The bestselling author explains how Nobel Prize-winner Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues launched a scientific revolution

Walter Isaacson is the bestselling author of Leonardo da Vinci, Einstein and Steve Jobs. His new book is The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing and the Future of the Human Race, a gripping account of how Nobel Prize-winner Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues launched a scientific revolution that gives humanity the power to cure diseases, fend off viruses, and give birth to healthier babies.

Doudna has invented a technology that has the potential to change human history: an easy-to-use tool that can edit DNA. Known as CRISPR, it has opened up a brave new world of medical miracles and moral questions. The past half-century has been a digital age, based on the microchip, the computer and the internet. Now we are entering a life-science revolution. Children who study digital coding will be joined by those who study genetic code.

Doudna’s work raises huge questions: Should we use our new evolution-hacking powers to make us less susceptible to viruses? Should we allow parents, if they can afford it, to enhance the height or strength or IQ of their children?


Speakers

Speaker

Walter Isaacson

Professor of history at Tulane, previously CEO of the Aspen Institute, chair of CNN, and editor of TIME.


Professor of history at Tulane, and previously CEO of the Aspen Institute, chair of CNN, and editor of TIME. He is the author of Leonardo da Vinci; The Innovators; Steve Jobs; Einstein: His Life and Universe; Benjamin Franklin: An American Life and Kissinger: A Biography.
Chair

Guddi Singh

Paediatric Doctor and TV presenter


Paediatric doctor and TV presenter, with wide experience in social justice and health equity. Singh has previously worked around the world, including with the World Health Organization (WHO), and is the current Advocacy lead for the British Association for Child and Adolescent Health and helps to manage the health think-tank, the Centre for Health and the Public Interest (CHPI). Singh’s presenting debut was as the host of BBC Two’s Babies: Their Wonderful World - the largest study on early child development ever attempted, BBC Two’s Trust Me I’m A Doctor and Al-Jazeera’s The Cure. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she co-hosted two BBC Two Horizon coronavirus specials, as well as Channel 4’s How to Avoid a Second Wave, followed by Why is Covid Killing People of Colour? on BBC One in 2021. 

Speakers are subject to change.