The CRISPR Revolution and the New Era of Genome Editing with Kevin Davies
Kevin Davies is a renowned British science journalist and the executive editor of The CRISPR Journal, based in New York. His literary career began with Breakthrough: The Race to Find the Breast Cancer Gene in the early 1990s, followed by Cracking the Genome, which details the dramatic story of one of the greatest scientific feats ever accomplished: the mapping of the human genome. His other titles include the $1,000 Genome, DNA: The Story of the Genetic Revolution, and his most recent release, Editing Humanity: The CRISPR Revolution and the New Era of Genome Editing, for which he won a Guggenheim Fellowship for science writing in 2017. Kevin studied at Oxford University and moved to the US in 1987 after earning his Ph.D. in genetics. He is the founding editor of the Nature Genetics journal and Bio-IT World magazine, former editor-in-chief of Cell Press, and the first publisher of C&EN, the weekly magazine of the American Chemical Society. In today’s episode, Kevin elaborates on his career trajectory and explains why he believes that hanging up his lab coat was the best decision he ever made. We also touch on the common themes that run through his books, some of the challenges scientific publishers and editors face, and the importance of promoting the work of women scientists. We also cover vectors, CRISPR babies, the cost of gene therapy, and so much more! Make sure not to miss this fascinating discussion with the remarkable Kevin Davies.
Key Points From This Episode:
- Kevin’s career trajectory and his so-called “desperate” shift to science journalism.
- How Kevin believes the field of genetics has evolved since he was a geneticist in the 1980s.
- Learn about the impetus behind the Nature Genetics journal and The CRISPR Journal.
- What motivated Kevin to write Breakthrough, including a meeting with Mary-Claire King.
- Three elements in all of his books: genetics, medical or societal impact, and personal drama.
- Hanging up his lab coat to join Nature and the access to authors that it afforded him.
- Kevin reflects on the demographic representation and “race to the finish line” issues in scientific publishing and the burden editors face.
- The lens through which Nobel Prizes are considered and how it can shift perspectives.
- The importance of promoting women in science, who have traditionally been overlooked.
- How Kevin’s book, Editing Humanity, coincided with Doudna and Charpentier making history as the first two women to share a Nobel Prize.
- Stanley Qi’s role in the CRISPR story, which Kevin calls an “unsung contribution.”
- Speculation and trepidation surrounding vectors: Kevin shares some new thinking.
- Germline genome editing, CRISPR babies, He Jiankui, and controversy in Hong Kong.
- Learn more about the exponential cost of gene therapies and gene editing drugs.