On the Island

IRAS Summer Conference on Star Island: June 22‐29, 2019 The CRISPR Apple on the Tree of Knowledge: Bioengineering, Gene Editing, and the Human Future

The following press release provides details about the upcoming summer IRAS conference on Star Island. We think this year’s theme is particularly enticing, especially to those interested in learning more about the advancement of human gene editing technology and its impact on our lives and the world. We invite you to join us at the IRAS 2019 conference on Star Island to renew spiritually, explore matters of consequence, and gain knowledge about the world as it might ideally be. You can register for IRAS here.

Star Island is once again hosting the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science Conference this summer from June 22‐29. Star Island is one of the nine Isles of Shoals located seven miles off the coast of New Hampshire and Maine. Star has a storied history: in the 1600’s it was the busiest fishing port on the East coast. In the 1800’s, artists, writers and intellectuals flocked to the Oceanic Hotel ‐ one of the last of the original Grand Hotels. For the last 100 years, Star Island has offered an all‐inclusive summer retreat experience for families, youth, and adults, hosting a wide variety of themed conferences and personal spiritual centering opportunities. There is something for everyone on Star Island, whether you enjoy swimming, attending intellectually stimulating theme talks, or just sitting in a rocking chair looking out at the open ocean. The island also offers a look into the cutting edge sustainability technology of the Green Gosport Initiative, including the largest off‐grid solar array in New England, a sophisticated composting system, independent water and wastewater facilities, and more. Island systems and sustainability tours are available in addition to other historic and behind‐the‐scenes tours. The island even has its own museum, Vaughn Cottage, home to the famed Isles of Shoals poet Celia Thaxter’s original writing desk, first edition work, and hand‐painted pottery. People of all backgrounds are drawn to Star Island for its recreation, natural beauty, and simplicity. What keeps people coming back year after year is the abundance of kindness and community. Attending a conference like IRAS is a treasured family tradition for so many, and guests consistently describe their experience on the island as magical.

The 2019 theme of the summer IRAS conference is The CRISPR Apple on the Tree of Knowledge: Bioengineering, Gene Editing, and the Human Future. Program co‐chairs Arvin Gouw and Ted Peters, and conference chairs Maynard Moore and Abby Fuller, have lined up an array of accomplished speakers to address the challenges and possibilities we face with the advancement of CRISPR technology. Human gene editing is quickly outstripping the decision‐making mechanisms we have in place for approving or regulating technology usage. The technology to directly manipulate the genomes of plants, animals and even humans is developing rapidly and is already in use. Can it be rationally managed and applied ethically? What are the medical, economic, environmental, and social consequences of genetic manipulation? At this conference, scientists, theologians, religious scholars and ethicists will offer illuminating and thought‐provoking perspectives on the issues surrounding the gene editing technology known as CRISPR/CAS9. Scientists will explain the technique of gene editing with CRISPR and ethicists will ponder the impacts on society, from pest control to designer babies. What are the implications for agriculture and world hunger? What about medical advances that are too costly for most of the world? Theologians and religious scholars will discuss how we understand human nature and responsibility from within various religious traditions such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism. Most fundamentally, IRAS will explore ethical issues such as therapy versus enhancement; species elimination versus global epidemics; germline intervention; and the long‐term effects of bioengineering and genome editing that are within the realm of CRISPR possibility. The following speakers will be presenting at the 2019 IRAS summer conference on Star Island:

Dr. Arvin Gouw and Dr. Ted Peters –Conference Program Co‐Chairs
Dr. K. N. Siva Subramanian ‐ Professor of Pediatrics & Obstetrics/Gynecology, at the Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington D.C. Dr. Michael Ruse ‐ Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Program in the History and Philosophy of Science at Florida State University, Gainsville
Dr. Lisa Fullam, Th.D. ‐ Professor of Moral Theology, Santa Clara University, California
Dr. Arthur M. Sutherland ‐ Associate Professor of Theology and African‐American Culture, and Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Loyola College of Maryland, Baltimore
Dr. Nadine Vicenten ‐ Harvard’s Personal Genomics Education Center Dr. Gary Sherman ‐ Associate Vice President for Program Innovations, Virginia Technological Institute and University; Former Senior Scientist for Food Security, USDA
Dr. William B. Hurlbut ‐ Consulting Professor in the Department of Neurobiology at Stanford University Medical Center; President’s Council on Bioethics (2001‐2009) Dr. Gayle E. Woloschak ‐ Professor, Departments of Radiation Oncology, Radiology, and Cell & Molecular Biology, Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University
Dr. Constance Bertka, Unitarian Universalist, Doctorate in Earth Sciences, Co‐Director of Human Origins at the Smithsonian, and Professor at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington D.C. will be this year’s Conference Chaplain

To learn more about IRAS on Star Island and to register for the conference, visit www.starisland.org/IRAS.

IRAS cultivates a community of informed and respectful inquiry and dialogue at the intersections of science with religion, spirituality and philosophy in service of global, societal and personal well‐being.


Learn more at www.iras.org