Human genome editing is here. How should it be governed?

Gene editing is inexpensive, simple and becoming more widely used in clinical applications. One example is clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) genome editing, which is an efficient tool to introduce changes in DNA. Germline editing promises efficiency in eradicating many diseases, but ethical and legal questions persist about unknown, transgenerational and global consequences.

Ethics in Health Care

Explore the AMA Journal of Ethics for articles, podcasts and polls that focus on ethical issues that affect physicans, physicians-in-training and their patients.

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The December issue of the AMA Journal of Ethics® (@JournalofEthics) features numerous perspectives on governing human genome editing and gives you an opportunity to earn CME credit. 

Articles include: 

How Should Physicians Respond When They Learn Patients Are Using Unapproved Gene Editing Interventions?” Responding to patients violating U.S. health commerce regulations can be critical when they buy and use unproven interventions. 

Using the 4-S Framework to Guide Conversations With Patients About CRISPR.” Empathic communication skills help motivate understanding of safety, significance of harms, impact on succeeding generations, and social consequences. 

What Should Clinicians Do to Engage the Public About Gene Editing?” Clinicians should have a working understanding of gene editing, controversy surrounding its use, and its far-reaching clinical and ethical implications. 

How Should ‘CRISPRed’ Babies Be Monitored Over Their Life Course to Promote Health Equity?” Transnational monitoring efforts should focus on safety, defining standard of care, and promoting just access to innovation.

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Listen and learn 

In the journal’s December podcast, AMA Senior Policy Analyst Sean McConnell, PhD—whose work focuses on genomics and precision medicine—discusses gene editing and CRISPR technology.  

Scott J. Schweikart is a senior research associate for the AMA Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs and legal editor for the AMA Journal of Ethics. On the podcast, he discusses what prudent governance requires.  

Listen to previous episodes of the podcast, “Ethics Talk,” or subscribe in iTunes or other services. 

Earn CME   

The AMA Journal of Ethics CME module, “Prioritizing Women's Health in Germline Editing Research,” is designated by the AMA for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.   

The module is part of the AMA Ed Hub™, an online platform that brings together high-quality CME, maintenance of certification, and educational content—in one place—with relevant learning activities, automated credit tracking and reporting for some states and specialty boards.   

Learn more about AMA CME accreditation. 

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Your patient’s asking about her 23andMe results. Now what?

Submit manuscripts and artwork   

The journal’s editorial focus is on commentaries and articles that offer practical advice and insights for medical students and physicians. Submit a manuscript for publication. The journal also invites original photographs, graphics, cartoons, drawings and paintings that explore the ethical dimensions of health or health care.   

A look ahead 

Upcoming issues of the AMA Journal of Ethics will focus on culture, context and epidemic containment, and on global burden of cancer inequality. Sign up to receive email alerts when new issues are published.