Talking Biopolitics with Paul Knoepfler and Nathaniel Comfort

Paul Knoepfler and Nathaniel Comfort
January 26


Paul Knoepfler, author of the just-released GMO Sapiens: The Life-Changing Science of Designer Babies, will talk about the book and its implications with historian of science Nathaniel Comfort. This live online event is part of Talking Biopolitics 2016, a series of conversations with cutting-edge thinkers about the social meanings of human biotechnologies. For updates and background materials, check out the Facebook event page. We'll livetweet the conversation on Twitter using #TalkingBiopolitics.

About the Book 

GMO Sapiens tackles in a clear and approachable style the history and science behind the hot topic of genetically modified organisms including plants, foods, animals, and potentially, humans. "Scientists are on the verge of being able to create people who are GMOs. Should they do it? Could we become a healthier and 'better' species or might eugenics go viral leading to a real, new world of genetic dystopia?"

Alexandra Minna Stern, Professor of American Culture at the University of Michigan and member of the CGS Advisory Board, said in her review: “GMO Sapiens could not be more timely. New technologies like CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing have great clinical potential, but they also bring us closer to a world in which future children can be pre-conceptively manipulated and customized to possess certain traits. A stem cell biologist, Knoepfler explains cutting-edge developments in human genetics in accessible prose. More importantly, he clearly presents the ethical complexities around designer babies and the pursuit of genetic perfection at a moment when the Brave New World envisioned decades ago by Aldous Huxley mimics reality more than science fiction.”

About the Author

Paul Knoepfler is Associate Professor of cell biology and human anatomy at UC Davis School of Medicine. Paul is a cancer survivor and patient advocate, and in 2013 was named one of the 50 most influential people in the stem cell world. In December 2015, Paul gave a TED Talk in Vienna entitled "What if my neighbor's kid was genetically modified?" He is the author of Stem Cells: An Insider's Guide (WSPC, 2013), and his recent writing can be found in Slate and on his blog The Niche

Nathaniel Comfort is Professor in the Department of the History of Medicine at John Hopkins School of Medicine and the Baruch Blumberg Chair of Astrobiology at the Library of Congress/NASA. His research has focused on heredity and health in twentieth century America. He is the author of The Science of Human Perfection: How Genes Became the Heart of American Medicine (Yale, 2012) and The Tangled Field: Barbara McClintock’s Search for the Patterns of Genetic Control (Harvard, 2001). His recent writing can be found in The NationNatureAeonThe Point, and on his blog Genotopia

Photo of Nathaniel Comfort