UB School of Law Mitchell Lecture to address new frontiers in gene editing

Release Date: September 15, 2016

BUFFALO, N.Y. – The promise and perils of new technologies in genetic engineering will be examined in a major forum on Friday, Oct. 21, sponsored by the University at Buffalo School of Law.

The forum, titled “Editing the Environment: Emerging Issues in Genetics and the Law,” will begin 2 p.m. in the Center for the Arts on UB’s North Campus. This is the latest Mitchell Lecture, the School of Law’s signature lecture series that since 1951 has brought distinguished legal scholars to speak on the most important issues in law.

Emerging biotechnologies such as CRISPR and gene drives are ushering in a new era of genetic engineering. The technical means to modify life are becoming cheaper, faster, more accurate and more widely accessible. Gene editing technologies have already made it possible to engineer ourselves, our food animals and our crops. More recently, they are also being developed to drive to extinction certain species such as mosquitoes and ticks, with significant implications for the management of human diseases, including malaria and Zika.

What kind of futures do gene-editing technologies portend, and what guides their regulation? This year’s Mitchell Lecture will explore the cultural, scientific, ecological and legal implications of gene-editing technologies for the future of life.

Three distinguished speakers from law, science and governance – as well as a dozen scholars from a wide array of disciplines and professional backgrounds – will examine the evolving regulatory approaches to gene editing.

The featured speakers are:

Kevin M. Esvelt of the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Esvelt’s research focuses on evolutionary approaches to the engineering of ecosystems ranging from the microbial to the global. His discoveries offer new ways to control vector-borne and parasitic diseases, as well as agricultural pests and environmentally damaging invasive species.

Lori B. Andrews of Chicago-Kent College of Law at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Andrews, an internationally recognized expert on emerging technologies and the author of 11 books, has been an advisor on genetic and reproductive technology to Congress, the World Health Organization, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the federal Department of Health and Human Services, among others.

Sheila Jasanoff of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Jasanoff directs the school’s Program on Science, Technology and Society. Her work explores the role of science and technology in the law, politics and policy of modern democracies, with particular attention to the nature of public reason.

Facilitating this event is Irus Braverman of the UB School of Law, where she is a William J. Magavern Professor of Law and an adjunct professor of geography.  She writes at the intersections of nature, animals, and the law.

The Mitchell Lecture presentations are free and open to the public. Further information is available at www.law.buffalo.edu/mitchell.

More about the Mitchell Lecture:

The Mitchell Lecture Series was endowed in 1950 by a gift from Lavinia A. Mitchell in memory of her husband, James McCormick Mitchell. An 1897 graduate of the Buffalo Law School, Mitchell later served as chairman of the Council of the University of Buffalo, which was then a private university. Justice Robert H. Jackson delivered the first Mitchell Lecture in 1951, titled “Wartime Security and Liberty Under Law.” The lecture was published that year in the first issue of the Buffalo Law Review.

Mitchell Lecture programs have brought many distinguished speakers to the School of Law. These have included Irene Khan, C. Edwin Baker, Derrick Bell, Barry Cushman, Carol Gilligan, Elizabeth Holtzman, Stewart Macaulay, Catharine McKinnon, Carrie Menkel-Meadow, Richard Posner and Clyde Summers.

Since its founding in 1887, the University at Buffalo School of Law – the State University of New York system’s only law school – has established an excellent reputation and is widely regarded as a leader in legal education. Counted among of the nation's premier public law schools, its cutting-edge curriculum provides both a strong theoretical foundation and the practical tools graduates need to succeed in a competitive global marketplace, wherever they choose to practice. A special emphasis on interdisciplinary studies, public service and opportunities for hands-on clinical education prepare UB alumni to balance the scales of justice throughout the world.

Media Contact Information

Ilene Fleischmann
Vice Dean for Alumni, PR and Communications
Law School
Tel: 716-645-7347