INSIGHTS | POLICY FORUM
research conduct: evidence, ethics, and engagement, which are also important themes
represented throughout the NASEM report.
The principles are presented in the box,
with references indicating the NASEM
recommendation to which the principle
AN ETHIC OF RESPONSIBILITY
Through alignment with the principles, sponsors of gene drive research aim to contribute
to an adaptive and data-informed toolbox of
policies that can support the responsible development of gene drive research [(2), p. 172].
Such a toolbox affords the flexibility to re-
spond to new technical advances and knowl-
edge, while ensuring the long-term safety of
human health and the environment. Princi-
ples serve as a moral compass to “anchor the
actionables,” so that only the highest-quality
research endeavors, consistent with the
best-practice guidance and standards set by
the scientific community, will be supported.
As the NASEM report notes, “institutions,
funders, and professional societies work in
concert to encourage professional best prac-
tices in research. Such cooperation will be in-
strumental to maintaining high standards in
gene drive research” [(2), p. 8].
To date, 13 organizations have endorsed
the principles, and other sponsors and re-
search organizations in both the public and
private sector are encouraged to contact the
corresponding author if they wish to sign
on. The signatories to the principles will
cooperate on catalyzing a culture of respon-
sible innovation by encouraging sponsors
in the public and private sectors to endorse
and implement the guiding principles in
funding decisions and research manage-
ment. Moving forward, the forum of gene
drive sponsors and supporters will convene
to discuss next steps in operationalizing the
principles. Although there are many chal-
lenges to address, the forum will start with
consideration of harmonized approaches to
stakeholder engagement, regulatory over-
sight, transparency and data sharing to sup-
port the research, knowledge sharing, and
public discourse on gene drive technology.
The forum is in a position to develop a “con-
sensus standard” designed to set an agreed
level of good practice or quality to help
establish confidence in gene drive innova-
tions, and to continue working with stake-
holders and relevant agencies to implement
all of the principles. This will ensure prog-
ress, efficiency, and a common framework
within which to move the field forward. j
REFERENCES AND NOTES
1. World Health Oganization.(WHO),“WorldMalariaReport
2016” (Publication 978-92-4-151171-1, WHO, 2016); www.
(NASEM),“Gene Drives on the Horizon: Advancing Science,
Navigating Uncertainty, and Aligning Research with Public
Values” (Publication 10.17226/23405, NASEM, 2016); www.
3. T.Harvey-Samuel, T.Ant, L.Alphey, Biol.Invasions 19,1683
4. S.P.Sinkins,F.Gould, Nat.Rev.Genet. 7,427(2006).
5. A.Hammond etal., Nat.Biotechnol. 34,78(2016).
6. V.M.Gantz et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 112,E6736
7. A.M.Hammond et al., PLOS Genet.10.1371/journal.
8. B. L. Webber, S. Raghu, O. R. Edwards, Proc.Natl.Acad.Sci.
U.S.A. 112, 10565 (2015).
9. E.Callaway,Nature 10.1038/nature.2016.21216(2016).
10. G. E. Kaebnick etal .,Science 354, 710 (2016).
11. Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues
(PCBE), “New directions: The ethics of synthetic biology
and emerging technologies”; https://bioethicsarchive.
12. R.McKay,Nature 406,361(2000).
Institutions and signatories to the principles for sponsors and
supporters of gene drive research (in alphabetical order): Bill &
Melinda Gates Foundation, Trevor Mundel; Canadian Institutes
of Health Research (CIHR), Paul Lasko; Commonwealth
Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO),
Jack Steele; Foundation for the National Institutes of Health
(FNIH), Maria Freire; Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz), Marco
Aurélio Krieger; Health Research Council of New Zealand,
Kathryn McPherson; Indian Council of Medical Research
(ICMR), Soumya Swaminathan; Institut National de la Santé
et de la Recherche Médicale (Inserm), Yves Lévy; Institut
Pasteur, Christian Bréchot; National Health and Medical
Research Council of Australia, Anne Kelso; Open Philanthropy
Project, Nick Beckstead and Alexander Berger; Tata Trusts, R.
Venkataramanan; Wellcome Trust, Jeremy Farrar.
The authors are grateful for valuable feedback received from
members of the signatory organizations and representatives
from other sponsor and supporter organizations. C.E. is supported by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,
and S.J. is supported by grants from the Bill & Melinda
Gates Foundation and the Open Philanthropy Project. This
work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0
International (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits unrestricted
use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided
the original work is properly cited. To view a copy of this license,
visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. This
license does not apply to figures/photos/art work or other
content included in the article that is credited to a third party;
obtain authorization from the rights holder before using
1136 1 DECEMBER 2017 • VOL 358 ISSUE 6367
Guiding principles for the sponsors and
supporters of gene drive research
Advance quality science to promote the public good
The pursuit of gene drive research must be motivated by, and aim to promote, the
public good and social value. Funded research shall embody the highest quality science
and ethical integrity, consistent with the current best practice guidance set by the
research community and relevant decision-making bodies [(2), p. 106)].
Promote stewardship, safety, and good governance
Researchers and sponsors are stewards of science and the public trust. It is imperative
that good governance is demonstrably shown in all phases of the research, and
especially in relation to risk assessment and management. This requires compliance
with applicable national and international biosafety and regulatory policies and
standards. Research conducted with respect and humility for the broader ecosystem
in which humans live, taking into account the potential immediate and longer-term
effects through appropriate ecological risk assessment, is a hallmark of both good
stewardship and good governance [(2), pp. 128; 170–172)].
Demonstrate transparency and accountability
Knowledge sharing is not only essential for the advancement of science, but for
transparency to foster public trust in emergent technologies. The timely reporting of
results and broad sharing of data shall be the norm in gene drive research, consistent with
the tradition of openness established in its parent communities of genetic and genomic
science. Measures of transparency and accountability that contribute to building public
trust and a cohesive community of practice will be supported [(2), pp. 171; 177–178)].
Engage thoughtfully with affected communities, stakeholders, and publics
Meaningful engagement with communities, stakeholders, and publics is critical for
ensuring the best quality science and building and sustaining public confidence in
the research. Funded research shall include the resources needed to permit robust,
inclusive, and culturally appropriate engagement to ensure that the perspectives of
those most affected are taken into account [(2), pp. 142–143)].
Foster opportunities to strengthen capacity and education
Strengthening capacities in science, ethics, biosafety, and regulation is essential for
enabling agile and steady progress in gene drive research globally. Opportunities to
partner, educate, and train shall be supported throughout all phases of the research,
from the early stages to deployment. Strengthening capabilities within countries for
testing and deploying the technology is essential for informed decision-making
[(2), pp. 128; 170–172)].