Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
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‘What’s in a name?’

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-08-11, 08:55 authored by Carol Rizkalla

A recent announcement from Oregon Health & Science University stated that their scientists have eliminated the cause of a deadly genetic disease by editing the genes of a human embryo. This has raised the prospect of a powerful new tool in the physician’s toolbox. At present, the National Academy of Science does not specify a prohibition on human genome editing; rather, it stipulates certain considerations and parameters that must be met in any project proposal regarding this type of work. To eliminate the prospect of ‘designer babies’, the use of such genome-altering technology only for ‘deadly’ genetic diseases has been suggested. Each potential target gene would need to be evaluated carefully, on both scientific and ethical grounds, in order to be considered a suitable candidate for heritable genome editing. The semantics behind the National Academy of Sciences’ suggested considerations regarding human genome editing will be explored here. The terms ‘deadly’, ‘fatal’, and ‘serious disease’ will be used interchangeably, as is presently done in the literature on this topic. As well, the implications of other generally accepted terms to support gene editing, such as ‘disability’ and ‘disease’, will be explored.



The original article is available at Part of the RCSIsmj collection:

Published Citation

Rizkalla C. ‘What’s in a name?’ RCSIsmj. 2018;11(1):91-94

Publication Date



  • Undergraduate Research


RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences


  • Published Version (Version of Record)