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I have been blessed with the opportunity to grow up working at the prestigious Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories (CSHL), where I have attended countless lectures on innovations in biotechnology. At CSHL, I have been able to work alongside Dr. Ian Peikon, who was recently named one of Forbes’ top 30 scientists under 30 years of age. We experimented with a new gene editing technique known as CRISPR-Cas9, the newest, and arguably, the most effective genetic engineering tool, making DNA almost as editable as an essay such as this. It once took years for Dr. James Watson, founder of CSHL, nobel prize winner, and personal hero of mine, to determine the structure of DNA. Now, scientists, like Dr. Peikon, are able to edit DNA in a matter of days or weeks. For the approximately one thousand years of human existence, natural selection and random mutation has shaped our genome. For the first time ever, we now possess the ability to not only edit the DNA of every living human but also the DNA of future generations. We can now control and engineer the evolution of the human species. This now forces us to address an impossible but essential question: How will we, an unruly species whose individuals can never come to an agreement, choose to do with this unprecedented power? While our innovations may cure cancer, increase the production of food, and drastically progress human society, how can we avoid the unintended consequences that are so common when innovation moves at such rapid speeds? Gene editing forces people to struggle with where to draw the line when manipulating human DNA. This provides a landscape of opinions, with some calling for a ban of genetic manipulation, while others believe that scientists should forge ahead without restraint. These impending questions can lead to even greater ethical dilemmas. How we answer these questions is imperative in progressing the evolution of the human species, without the creation of negative inadvertent effects on the world, may be the greatest test the human race has yet to face yet.

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