26 September 2018
Students from Abingdon School and Fitzharrys School worked together on recording a podcast about gene editing with Max Jamilly, a Ph.D. student at the Weatherall Institute for Molecular Medicine at the John Radcliffe Hospital and Oxford University.
Max had won an award for an outreach project proposal from the Medical Research Council and decided to record a series of podcasts, discussing the science of gene editing and the ethical issues it raises, with school students.
After a short introduction to the ideas, the group soon got to grips with the basics of gene editing and started imagining its future possibilities, including artificially creating real dragons or giving humans additional capabilities such as underwater breathing or resistance to radiation during space exploration.
However, they were also aware of the ethical implications of gene editing treatments depending on wealth or its use for trivial applications such as cosmetic enhancements. There was also a very perceptive discussion of the issue of consent for treatment, especially in young babies or even unborn children.
The group from the partner schools worked really well together, impressing Max with their level of knowledge and imaginative ideas. He now has the unenviable task of editing the recordings to produce the final podcast with the help of Oxford Sparks.
All the students are really looking forward to hearing the result and all wanted another opportunity to spend time discussing interesting and important scientific issues over an extended period of time.