The Science & Ethics of Gene Editing

After a full day of  Tech Inclusion Melbourne and a Data Science Melbourne panel discussion, a normal person would go home eat dinner and have a bit of rest. I am not normal. 

To end a somewhat overwhelming and exhausting day, my friend Mar and I dashed over to Plenary 2 at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre, just in time for the start of Convergence Science Network's (@ConverSci) latest event: The Science & Ethics of Gene Editing.

Professor Jennifer Doudna and Assistant Professor Kevin Esvelt talked about genome editing, a technology that is described as a game changes with implications far and wide for society. They are both fantastic science communicators. 
Jennifer presented a brief history of CRISPR-Cas9 while raising applications and ethical questions posed by the technology, while Kevin called for greater transparency in science. He also discussed Gene Drives and Daisy Drives, concepts new to many in the audience, in what was a thought provoking presentation.

This was a fantastic effect and certainly one of the best public science talks I've been to in a long, long time. I didn't know much about gene editing, nor CRISPR-Cas9 but I had heard about it often enough in the news that I knew I wanted to know more. It was a sell-out event. The organisers twice moved it to a much larger venue, in order to fit the diverse audience of ~1700 people, that included high school students. attended the talk. I went away completely and utterly inspired by the magic that is science, and immensely proud to be a woman in science. This weekend I'll be buying Rachel Ignotofsky's Women In Science for my friend's 4 year old daughter. It's never too early to introduce kids to science, and perhaps more importantly introduce them to the people who inspire us.


The Talks

Convergence Science Network has since made both presentations public. In fact, you can watch all previous talks on the Convergence Science Network YouTube channel .

Presentation to Convergence Science Network by Professor Jennifer Doudna, 13 February 2018.
Presentation to Convergence Science Network by Assistant Professor Kevin Esvelt, 13 February 2018.


From the Twitterverse...





Tech Inclusion Melbourne

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending Melbourne's first Tech Inclusion conference (@techinclusionco). The programme was packed full of incredible speakers, many of whom offered extremely candid and humorous perspectives. There was an overwhelming sense of excitement and optimism for the future of tech,  a call to arms to change the way we think and act, and an overwhelming sense of unity as we stand up for each other and call out bullshit for what it is – at all levels of the workplace. It was such and an exhausting day and I can't even begin to summarise the key takeaways. Suffice to say there were many fantastic tweets (see #TechInclusion) and a whole new group of remarkably talented and awesome people to follow on Twitter.


How AI is Helping Control Malaria


Another great article from IBM's Think Blog

Now this is my kind of AI research...

A collaboration between IBM Research – Africa and the University of Oxford. By combining the OpenMalaria simulation model and machine intelligence they explore “what if” scenarios in the hope of  learning new, more effective policies for the control of malaria.

"..we have only just started to scratch the surface of possibilities of how AI may be used to tackle such grand challenges"