Regulation of Human Genome Editing in the Dawn of the CRISPR Era

By Scott J. Schweikart

With the advent of CRISPR and the first babies born with edited genomes, gene editing technology is now cheaper and more accurate than it has been. And there is now a verifiable occurrence of heritable genome modification using CRISPR.

As such, human genome editing is naturally (and quite rightly) receiving world-wide attention. Scientists, bioethicists, lawyers, and policy makers are questioning what is the best course of action in the face of this new technology that promises great medicinal benefits, but also poses great and unknown risks. Read More

Zeroing In on “Zero Tolerance” School Discipline Laws

By Alexandra Hess

Exclusionary school discipline (ESD) policies, also known as Zero Tolerance policies, enforce disciplinary measures like suspension, expulsion, or law enforcement referral to address particular student behaviors.

Though it began as part of the Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994, which mandated one-year expulsion for possessing a firearm at school, ESD became more widely adopted over time. Now, the policies apply nationwide to a broad range of behaviors — from damaging property and fighting, to possessing a cell phone or tobacco, as well as behaviors described by subjective terms often undefined in the law, like willful defiance, obscenity, or profanity. Read More

Who are the Healthcare Providers Approving Consumer-Driven Genetic Test Orders?

By Emily Qian, Magalie Leduc, and Birgit Funke

Consumer driven genetic testing has rapidly expanded, to the point where some genetic testing companies have reached 10 million customers. These tests are being advertised in commercials and in ads on social media. Genetic testing can reveal a variety of information ranging from ancestry to predisposition for disease. While ancestry, fitness regimens, and food preferences may seem all fun and games, the potential of learning about a predisposition for a serious disease should not be treated lightly.

While a DNA-based ancestry report may not require scientific expertise to understand the results, the genetics of human disease are highly complex. Thus specialized training is necessary to accurately interpret genetic information in this context. However, with the development of specialized medicine, the growing variety of health care providers, and the growing number of available un-credentialed educational courses online and degrees in various scientific areas, it is difficult for consumers to determine who may be the best provider with the right credentials to help them understand their genetic results. Read More