The Human Embryo. The fusion of an egg and sperm results in a zygote - a single-celled embryo. In humans, the term embryo refers to the stages of development from zygote to approximately eight to ten weeks, at which point the term fetus is generally used. Until relatively recently, much of what we know about the human embryo has been inferred from studies of other animals. However, recent advancements in imaging, genetics, and cell culture have not only made the human embryo more accessible to observation, but also to manipulation. This course will examine some of the biological, religious, ethical, and political considerations regarding the human embryo. We will consider such questions as: How is the human embryo formed? How do people define the beginning of life in humans? What rights does an embryo have? How do different religions or cultures view issues such birth control, abortion, and stem cell research? What are the consequences of artificial reproductive techniques, including pre-implantation screening of embryos? And what about newer technologies like cloning and genetic engineering?
Check out these books in print and/or online for further reading on your topic once you've gotten started.
How CRISPR lets us edit our DNA | Jennifer Doudna (2015)
Geneticist Jennifer Doudna co-invented a groundbreaking new technology for editing genes, called CRISPR-Cas9. The tool allows scientists to make precise edits to DNA strands, which could lead to treatments for genetic diseases … but could also be used to create so-called "designer babies." Doudna reviews how CRISPR-Cas9 works — and asks the scientific community to pause and discuss the ethics of this new tool.