Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, better known by its acronym, CRISPR, is a biochemical technology that allows scientists to precisely edit DNA sequences in cells in a way that the revised genes can be passed on to the next generation. This technology brings with it both promise and dread. On the one hand, it may soon be possible to eradicate genetic diseases like Tay-Sachs or cistic fibrosis, not only in individual patients, but in their offspring as well. On the other hand, the technique also opens the door to the idea of “designer children,” raising the specter of eugenics and genetically-enhanced human beings. Dietram A. Scheufele is the John E. Ross Professor in Science Communication and Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and in the Morgridge Institute for Research.
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