Cut and Paste: Exhibition on the ethics of genome editing

7 Feb 2023
Cut and Paste: Exhibition on the ethics of genome editing

By Maddie Wrench

The Francis Crick Institute has teamed up with award-winning design studio The Liminal Space to unveil the UK’s first exhibition about the ethics of genome editing. Featuring multi-sensory games and mind-bending patterns spliced from real genetic code, Cut + Paste invites visitors to explore the ultimate blueprint in design: Our DNA.

Genome editing is a process that allows scientists to alter the DNA of living organisms, including humans. Rapid developments in recent years have led to new treatments for diseases like sickle cell and sparked public debate about ‘designer babies’ - with some envisioning a new era of superhumans on the horizon and others concerned about what this powerful new technology might mean for the future of our society.

With potentially serious ethical implications, the stakes are high and scientists at the Crick think it’s time for the public to have their say.

By creating a visually stimulating, interactive experience for all ages, The Liminal Space explores and translates the science behind genome editing using art and design - something we can all connect with and understand.

Throughout Cut + Paste, visitors are invited to share their thoughts and ideas with scientists at the Crick, who want to know what the public think they should be concerned with.



Sarah Douglas, Director of The Liminal Space, commented: “As a purpose-led creative studio, we use art and design to create experiences that confront some of the most important social issues of our time.

Genome editing is a perfect example of this: it has the possibility to transform lives for the better, but also holds important ethical questions for public consideration.

We have worked rigorously with scientists from the Crick to develop an exhibition that is imaginative and exciting, and also invites visitors to participate in a critical conversation that’s taking place in science right now.”

Robin Lovell-Badge, Principal Group Leader at the Francis Crick Institute and international genome editing expert, commented: “As technology and science progresses, things that were previously impossible or in the realm of science-fiction, are now reality.

But important questions remain about how comfortable we are as a society for genome editing to be used and where the line should be drawn. These questions are not just for scientists to answer, as the decisions will impact all of us.”

Katie Gonzalez-Bell, Accessibility Consultant for Cut + Paste, commented: “It’s so important to open a dialogue exploring the complex and challenging nature of the ethics of genome editing.

And to recognise that for many living with conditions or disabilities, the concept of genome editing has personal and profound implications. Cut + Paste aims to provide an inclusive environment to reflect on this topic, with space to ask questions and share opinions.”

Source: The Liminal Space

Image Credit: The Liminal Space

Find out more about the exhibition here. Open Saturday 11 February - December 2023 at the Francis Crick Institute, London, UK.