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Completed Projects

Gene Drives

Focus areas:

Opportunities and Risks in the Life Sciences

Global Health Security

Gene drives are an emerging biotechnology being explored to mitigate the burden of several problems that have not been fully addressed by other measures, such as malaria and invasive species management. Gene drives, a type of genetic tool, are capable of altering the genetics of large portions of wild populations with relatively few resources. Once released, the movement of the gene drive through a population is almost entirely out of the control of humans. While this enables us to address problems without investing as many resources as other interventions require, it also poses several risks. There are several uncertainties surrounding gene drives and how they may behave.

This project assesses the risks and benefits of gene drives and identifies key challenges to regulating this unique class of tools. A literature review and interviews with key experts informed this project, which includes an assessment of the technology’s risks and potential benefits, relevant policy gaps, technical reviews of the different types of gene drives, and recommendations for governance. The findings are published in a report with the goal of guiding policy makers at the national and international level of different needs in regulating gene drives. Several recommendations for building regulatory frameworks are suggested, including the development of a registry of gene drive development and release.

Project team lead: Michael Montague, PhD

Project team: Lane Warmbrod, MS, MPH; Amanda Kobokovich, MPH; Rachel West, PhD; Georgia Ray

Project supported by: Open Philanthropy Project

Resources: Gene Drives: Pursuing Opportunities, Minimizing Risk (final report)
Summary of Gene Drives: Pursuing Opportunities, Minimizing Risk (PDF)

Date completed: May 18, 2020



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