Shambhavi Naik moderated a panel on the “Gene Editing: From Science to Society” and spoke on a panel on “Women in Science” at the India Science Fest held at IISER Pune between 11th-12th January, 2020.
Panelists at the Gene editing panel were Dr Sanjeev Galande, Dr Sudheendra Rao, Dr Ramarao Damerla and Dr Cong Cao. Key takeaways from the panel:
India first needs to set up infrastructure for massive scale of gene sequencing to understand genetic underpinnings of diseases. Only then will we be able to determine targets for gene editing. Second, we need GMP infrastructure for the manufacture of gene editing vectors. In third step, we need to train doctors and healthcare givers to identify genetic diseases that can be treated through gene editing. They would also have to stay abreast of technological developments and be able to prescribe gene editing therapies where feasible. Finally we need strong public engagement models to be able to interact with society to understand their ethical and scientific concerns about gene editing. There is a role for scientists, teachers and government agencies to dispel any misinformation or misleading narratives.
The Women in Science Panel focussed on means on improving inclusion of women in research. Shambhavi spoke about the opportunity cost for women to stay in science and how their is poor understanding of why women leave research. She suggested that how many problems are reduced to be women’s problems. For example, there is no consideration given to how increased paternity leave may impact women returning to their jobs post-maternity.