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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

IAS Fellow's Public Lecture - From Eugenics to Human Gene Editing: Ideology, Power and Engineering Life in China in a Global Context

22nd October 2019, 17:30 to 18:30, Sheraton Park, Ustinov College, Professor Jing-Bao Nie (University of Otago)


Gene editing technologies such as CRISPR-Cas9 have the capacity to alter the world forever through altering the genetic make-up of humankind. The announcement by a Chinese scientist in late November 2018 of the birth of the world’s first gene-edited babies sparked outrage across the world. Among numerous ethical issues, editing heritable germline genomes of otherwise healthy embryos for natural resistance to HIV constitutes an effort of positive eugenics, i.e. not treating disease but enhancing genetic features. This paradigm case of scientific misconduct has its roots in the widespread practice of yousheng (eugenics) in China and in the nation’s pursuit of science superpower status. Eugenics has long been a global phenomenon, and the engineering and instrumentalising of human life is a fundamental feature of global modernity. This lecture will offer a socio-ethical inquiry into how the ideologies of sinicised social Darwinism, nationalism and scientism have shaped the Chinese authoritarian model of human genetic engineering in a global context.

This lecture is free and open to all.

Details about Professor Jing-Bao Nie

Directions to Ustinov College

MapUstinov College is denoted as building No.52

Contact for more information about this event.