Systems Biology German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg and Member of the German Ethics Council
Professor Klingmüller is an expert in the field of systems biology and signal transduction. She is a professor at Heidelberg University as well as Head of Division at the German Cancer Research Center, where she is the co-coordinator of the Disease Area Lung Cancer and also a member of the Board of Trusties. In 2016 she was elected to be a member of the German Ethics Council – the leading advisory body of the German Federal Government and the German Parliament (Bundestag) for ethical questions.
Due to the remarkable progress in technologies that facilitate the targeted manipulation of genomes possibilities for gene editing of the human germline may appear within reach. However, these developments have triggered a highly controversial debate. In accordance with its mandate to address in the field of the life sciences the probable consequences of developments in research for the individual and society, the German Ethics Council is intensively discussing the topic of human genome editing and considers a variety of ethical approaches to the topic and a pluralist spectrum of opinions besides scientific progress. Apart from preparing recommendations for political and legislative action, an important task is aimed at informing the public and facilitating informed discussions. Therefore, during the 2016 Annual Meeting of the German Ethics Council entitled "Access to the human genome: New possibilities and their ethical evaluation" questions such as “Should interventions in the germ line of a human embryo continue to be banned, should they be permitted, or are they even imperative?” or “What responsibility do we have towards future generations?” were intensively discussed. Subsequently, an ad hoc recommendation “Germline intervention in the human embryo” by the German Ethics Council highlighted the global aspects of the topic and the importance of international discussions, in order to reach consent on future developments and applications. Currently, an opinion paper on the topic is in preparation. These deliberations will be presented from the perspective of a basic scientist contributing to the discussions.