Simons Foundation Presidential Lectures

SF Presidential Lecture: Illusions of Perfection in the Genomic Age

Gerald D. Fischbach Auditorium/2-GDFA (160 5th Avenue)

Gerald D. Fischbach Auditorium/2-GDFA

160 5th Avenue


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Lecture Description:

Our growing ability to read and manipulate the human genome has brought a dream of human perfection. Genome editing offers the tools to correct what many see as nature’s mistakes so that no one need suffer from drawing a poor hand in the lottery of life. In this talk, Sheila Jasanoff will discuss how this view ignores the social foundations of what makes lives worth living and wrongly reduces the value of life to the material properties of the genetic code.  

Speaker Bio:

Jasanoff is Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the Harvard Kennedy School. A pioneer in the social sciences, she explores the role of science and technology in the law, politics, and policy of modern democracies. Her books include “The Fifth Branch,” “Science at the Bar,” “Designs on Nature,” “The Ethics of Invention” and “Can Science Make Sense of Life?” She founded and directs the STS Program at Harvard; previously, she was the founding chair of the STS Department at Cornell. In addition, she has held distinguished visiting professorships at leading universities in Europe, Asia, Australia, and the US. Jasanoff served on the AAAS board of directors and as president of the Society for Social Studies of Science. Her honors include the 2022 Holberg Prize, the SSRC’s Hirschman Prize, the Humboldt Foundation’s Reimar-Lüst award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, a foreign member of the British Academy and the Royal Danish Academy, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She holds A.B., J.D., and Ph.D. degrees from Harvard University.