Ethics of Postgenomic Intervention and Control (EPIC)

Project leader: Stephan Guettinger

The scientific picture of the human body has radically changed in the postgenomic era, moving from a well-defined aggregate of human cells to a multi-species, co-produced process with vague boundaries. These radical shifts in our conceptual landscape have important ramifications for a range of debates.

Of particular interest to the EPIC project are debates about the ethics of biomedical interventions and control strategies in the postgenomic era: as our picture of the human body changes, question about the ethics of these interventions also take on a new dimension. This, we claim, represents an under-studied area of biomedical ethics.

The EPIC project will in particular focus on two interventions, namely genome editing and vaccination. Both interventions aim at modulating and controlling key parts of the human body (the genome and the immune response). Both are fraught with questions about safety, procedure and long-term ramifications for the well-being of individuals and populations more generally.

EPIC will combine an in-depth analysis of current developments in the technologies behind these interventions with an analysis of the existing ethical debate. The goal is to understand and trace how the emergence of the postgenomic body changes (or has to change) the ethical debate.


Presentations (invited talks)

  • “Biology and the Internet: Open science and the case of vaccination”. Conference ‘Internet and Science: An Analysis from the Structural and Dynamic Complexity’, University of A Coruna, March 14-15, 2019, Ferrol, Spain
  • “ENCODE and the nature of functional genomics”. Conference ‘Perspectives on the Human Genome Project and Genomics’, November 14-16, 2018. NIH, Bethesda, MD