Science Publishes Guiding Principles for Sponsors and Supporters of Gene Drive Research

November 30, 2017 — Science has published an article outlining guiding principles for sponsors and supporters of gene drive research agreed upon by 13 organizations thus far, including the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health. Considered an emerging technology still in early research, gene drive can be used to promote the preferential inheritance of a beneficial trait, thereby increasing its prevalence in a population.

The guiding principles (see list below) are a coordinated response to the 2016 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report that provided recommendations for responsible research on gene drive technologies for public health, ecosystem conservation, agriculture applications as well as for basic research. The developers and signatories of these guiding principles are committing to mobilize and facilitate progress in gene drive research by supporting efforts of the highest scientific and ethical quality, inspiring a transparent approach and backing existing biosafety measures.

For more information and to read the full article, click here.

Become a Signatory of the Guiding Principles

The list of current institutions and signatories of the guiding principles of gene drive research are listed below. Additional public and private sector organizations that are sponsors or supporters of gene drive research are encouraged to formally commit to the principles to grow the coalition of stakeholders pledged to safe and responsible gene drive research by becoming a signatory. Click here to learn more.

Guiding Principles & Signatories

Guiding principles for sponsors and supporters of gene drive research

Advance quality science to promote the public good
The pursuit of gene drive research must be motivated by, and aim to promote, the public good and social value. Funded research shall embody the highest quality science and ethical integrity, consistent with the current best practice guidance set by the research community and relevant decision-making bodies. (Response to NASEM recommendation 5-1, p. 106)

Promote stewardship, safety, and good governance
Researchers and sponsors are stewards of science and the public trust. It is imperative that good governance is demonstrably shown in all phases of the research, and especially in relation to risk assessment and management. This requires compliance with applicable national and international biosafety and regulatory policies and standards. Research conducted with respect and humility for the broader ecosystem in which humans live, taking into account the potential immediate and longer-term effects through appropriate ecological risk assessment, is a hallmark of both good stewardship and good governance. (Response to NASEM recommendations 6-1, p. 128; 8-3, 8-4, and 8-10, pp. 170–172)

Demonstrate transparency and accountability
Knowledge sharing is not only essential for the advancement of science, but for transparency to foster public trust in emergent technologies. The timely reporting of results and broad sharing of data shall be the norm in gene drive research, consistent with the tradition of openness established in its parent communities of genetic and genomic science. Measures of transparency and accountability that contribute to building public trust and a cohesive community of practice will be supported [(2), pp. 171, 177–178)]. (Response to NASEM recommendations 8-5 and 8-7 p. 171, 9-2 p. 177, and 9-5 p. 178)

Engage thoughtfully with affected communities, stakeholders, and publics
Meaningful engagement with communities, stakeholders, and publics is critical for ensuring the best quality science and building and sustaining public confidence in the research. Funded research shall include the resources needed to permit robust, inclusive, and culturally appropriate engagement to ensure that the perspectives of those most affected are taken into account. (Response to NASEM recommendations 7-1 through 7-8, pp. 142–143)

Foster opportunities to strengthen capacity and education
Strengthening capacities in science, ethics, biosafety, and regulation is essential for enabling agile and steady progress in gene drive research globally. Opportunities to partner, educate, and train shall be supported throughout all phases of the research, from the early stages to deployment. Strengthening capabilities within countries for testing and deploying the technology is essential for informed decision-making. (Response to NASEM recommendations 6-1, p. 128; 8-1, 8-2, 8-5, 8-7, 8-8, and 8-10, pp. 170–172)

Founding Signatories (in alphabetical order)

  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Trevor Mundel
  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Paul Lasko
  • Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), Jack Steele
  • Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH), Maria Freire
  • Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz), Marco Aurélio Krieger
  • Health Research Council of New Zealand, Kathryn McPherson
  • Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Soumya Swaminathan
  • Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (Inserm), Yves Lévy
  • Institut Pasteur, Christian Bréchot
  • National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, Anne Kelso
  • Open Philanthropy Project, Nick Beckstead and Alexander Berger
  • Tata Trusts, R. Venkataramanan
  • Wellcome Trust, Jeremy Farrar

Additional Signatories (in alphabetical order)

  • Genome Canada, Cindy L. Bell
  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Sonny Ramaswamy
  • Revive & Restore, Ryan Phelan
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