Synthetic human embryos could allow for research beyond the 14-day limit, but this raises ethical questions

Françoise Baylis & Jocelyn Downie | July 25, 2023

Scientists have created synthetic human embryos. Now we must consider the ethical and moral quandaries.

The best books on genetic engineering (including CRISPR) and designer babies

Françoise Baylis | May 15, 2023

What are the best books on genetic engineering (including CRISPR) and ‘designer babies’? Francoise Baylis, author of Altered Inheritence, lists a number of recommended readings and details why each title was selected.

Creating and implanting synthetic monkey embryos could lead to stem-cell babies

Françoise Baylis | April 12, 2023

In January 2017, I met Jiankui He, the now-infamous Chinese scientist who would go on to create the world’s first genome-edited babies. This was at a meeting in Berkeley, Calif., hosted by Jennifer Doudna who, along with Emmanuelle Charpentier, was awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her work on CRISPR genome-editing technology.



Human genome editing: From the first to the third international summit

Françoise Baylis | March 22, 2023

In early March, I was in London, England for the Third International Summit on Human Genone Editing. It was a welcome occasion to see friends and colleagues and to advance discussion and debate on research involving somatic, germline, and heritable human genome editing.



Heritable human genome editing: Who decides? Science or society?

Françoise Baylis | October 11, 2021

In my view, ethics is the compass the scientific community needs to navigate the terrain. It is thus for civil society – not the scientific community – to set the research parameters using various governance mechanisms that take into consideration a range of societal values and priorities..

Equity and access need to be at the forefront of innovation in human genome editing

Jantina de Vries & Françoise Baylis | July 12, 2021

In July 2021, after more than two years of study and consultation, the WHO’s Expert Advisory Committee on Developing Global Standards for Governance and Oversight of Human Genome Editing released two reports: a framework for governance and recommendations on human genome editing.


Sheetal Soni & Françoise Baylis | June 7, 2021

Five years ago, independent research teams in the U.S. and the U.K. succeeded in cultivating human embryos in the laboratory for 12-to-13 days longer than ever before. They could have continued their research but didn’t. They stopped because of the broad international consensus that such research should not be permitted beyond 14 days.

Stem cell research community drops 14-day limit on human embryo research

Françoise Baylis | May 27, 2021

The 14-day rule, also known as the 14-day limit, “became a standard part of embryo-research oversight through the convergence of deliberations of various national committees over decades.” Until now, the ISSCR guidelines have been in lockstep with laws, regulations and guidelines endorsing the 14-day limit. No more.

Prison sentence for creator of first CRISPR babies reignites ethical debate

Françoise Baylis | January 5, 2020

A month ago, there were countless commentaries on the one-year anniversary of the news that Chinese researcher He Jiankui had created the world’s first genome-edited twins. […] From my perspective, these comments miss the mark insofar as they fail to acknowledge that the birth of three genome-edited babies is not just the work of three scientists.

A year after the first CRISPR babies, stricter regulations are now in place

Françoise Baylis | December 10, 2019

Since the dramatic announcement of the world’s first genome-edited babies using CRISPR technology, there have been no more such announcements. This is due, in no small part, to discreet actions taken by the People’s Republic of China, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Russian Federation.

Un an après les premiers bébés CRISPR, des normes plus strictes sont en place pour éviter les dérives

Françoise Baylis | December 10, 2019

Depuis l’annonce de la naissance des premiers bébés dont le génome a été modifié grâce à la technologie CRIPSR, il n’y a plus eu de telles annonces. Cela est attribuable en bonne partie aux mesures discrètes prises par la République populaire de Chine, l’Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS) et la Fédération de Russie.

Genetically modifying mosquitoes to control the spread of disease carries unknown risks

Natalie Kofler, Françoise Baylis, Graham Dellaire & Landon Getz | October 1, 2019

Every year, around one million people die of mosquito-borne diseases. This is why mosquitoes are considered one of the deadliest living creatures on the planet — not because they are lethal themselves, but because many of the viruses and parasites they transmit are.

The CRISPR dream

Françoise Baylis | September 18, 2019

Françoise Baylis shares a brief excerpt from her book Altered Inheritance: CRISPR and the Ethics of Human Genome Editing.

Why avoid the “M-Word” in human genome editing?

Françoise Baylis | April 3, 2019

It is a truism that good ethics begins with good facts. Here are some of the facts about the ethics and politics of heritable human genome editing from 2015 to 2019.

Scientists disagree about the ethics and governance of human germline editing

Françoise Baylis & Marcy Darnovsky | January 17, 2019

Despite the appearance of agreement, scientists are not of the same mind about the ethics and governance of human germline editing. These divergences have significant implications for research practice and policy concerning heritable human genome editing.

Jiankui He: A Sorry tale of high-stakes science

Françoise Baylis, Graham Dellaire & Landon Getz | December 10, 2018

Sam Sternberg, a CRISPR/Cas9 researcher at Columbia University, spoke for many when he said “I’ve long suspected that scientists, somewhere, would rush to claim the ‘prize’ of being first to apply CRISPR clinically to edit the DNA of human embryos, and use those embryos to establish pregnancies, but still, I’m shocked to find out it’s allegedly happened this quickly.”

Why we are not ready for genetically designed babies

Françoise Baylis, Graham Dellaire & Landon Getz | November 27, 2018

The scientific community has expressed widespread condemnation of He’s decision to initiate a pregnancy using genetically modified embryos — as “dangerous, “irresponsible” and “crazy.” What if mistakes are made? How can we be sure this powerful technology will benefit humankind? Are we ready for the consequences of genetically engineering our own evolution?

First CRISPR babies: Where are our ethics?

Françoise Baylis | November 26, 2018

Françoise Baylis responds to the recently announced birth of the world’s first genome edited babies and raises concerns about the scientific practice and ethical accountability.

Gene editing technology: Where should we draw the line?

Françoise Baylis | October 24, 2017

A 20th anniversary celebration of the Oviedo Convention begins today, October 24, in Strasbourg, France. In anticipation of this conference, many have been clamouring for changes to Article 13 of the Convention, which prohibits deliberately changing the genes that are passed on to children and future generations (human germline modification).

Canada’s prohibition on altering the human genome

Françoise Baylis & Alana Cattapan | October 2, 2017

Françoise Baylis and Alana Cattapan defend the current prohibition in Canada on making genetic alterations that can be passed on to future generations.

Genome editing of human embryos broadens ethics discussion

Françoise Baylis | October 1, 2017

In September, Kathy Niakan at the Francis Crick Institute in London and her colleagues reported they had used CRISPR on human embryos to better understand human development.

Human genome editing: We should all have a say

Françoise Baylis | August 1, 2017

Shoukhrat Mitalipov, a reproductive biologist at Oregon Health and Science University, is nothing if not a pioneer. Now, in 2017, his team has reported safely and effectively modifying human embryos with the MYBPC3 mutation (which causes myocardial disease) using the gene editing technique CRISPR.

Human germline genome editing: An ‘impressive’ sleight of hand?

Françoise Baylis | February 17, 2017

Françoise Baylis wonders how it is that in 14 months (from December 2015 to February 2017), the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. National Academy of Medicine have moved human germline genome editing out of the category ‘irresponsible’ and into the category ‘permissible.’