Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Fiction, facts and values of synthetic biology

“The story of Frankenstein is a scientific one,” says bioethicist Paul Root Wolpe, adding that the classic tale by Mary Shelley is “a product of the Christian cultural milieu that had underpinnings of suspicion and worry about technology.”

Wolpe, director of the Emory Center for Ethics, was one of the speakers at recent meetings on the future of synthetic biology, held by the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.

What is synthetic biology? Are molecular biologists playing God? Should we be more excited or frightened by the potential to make life as we don’t know it? Click here to listen and watch as experts explain some of the challenges ahead, including communicating potential benefits and risks of synthetic biology to the public.

Emory President James Wagner is vice chair of the Presidential Commission, which plans more public meetings in November, on the Emory campus.

Illustration, above, from 1831 edition of "Frankenstein." Source: Wikipedia Commons

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