Eben Kirksey longlist author interview
30 September 2021
At a medical conference in Hong Kong in November 2018, Dr He Jiankui announced that he had created the first genetically modified babies – twin girls named Lulu and Nana – sending shockwaves around the world. A year later, a Chinese court sentenced Dr He to three years in prison for “illegal medical practice.”
As scientists globally start to catch up with China’s vast genetic research programme, gene editing is fuelling an innovation economy that threatens to widen racial and economic inequality. Fundamental questions about science, health, and social justice are at stake: who gets access to gene editing technologies? And can we shape research agendas to promote an ethical and fair society?
As countries loosen regulations around the globe, from the US to Indonesia, this book takes us on a continent-hopping journey to meet the key scientists, lobbyists, and entrepreneurs who are bringing cutting-edge genetic engineering tools like CRISPR to their local clinics. The author ventures beyond the scientific echo chamber, talking to disabled scholars,
doctors, hackers, chronically ill patients and activists who provide alternative visions of a genetically modified future for humanity.
Eben Kirksey is an American anthropologist and Member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. He has been published in Wired, The Atlantic, The Guardian and The Sunday Times. He is sought out as an expert on science in society by the Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Democracy Now, Time and the BBC, among other media outlets. He speaks widely at the world’s leading academic institutions including Oxford, Yale, Columbia, UCLA, and the International Summit of Human Genome Editing, plus music festivals, art exhibits, and community events. Professor Kirksey holds a long-term position at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia.
Chris van Tulleken