Imperial’s partnership with The Times and The Sunday Times continued this week with a discussion of ‘designer babies’. Tom Whipple, science editor of The Times and chair of the event was joined on the panel by IVF pioneer Lord (Robert) Winston, Dr Güneş Taylor from the Francis Crick Institute, and Dr Inga Prokopenko, a reader in human genomics.

“Designer babies: the power to control our own evolution” was the second event in a year-long partnership between the College and The Times and The Sunday Times. The discussion was dominated by the feasibility and safety of using gene editing to alter human embryos, as well as tackling the “deeply uncomfortable question” of how to avoid this technology being used as a form of eugenics against disabled and neurodivergent people.

Late last year Chinese scientist He Jiankui claimed to have successfully edited the genes of twin girls to prevent them from contracting HIV. Research published this week suggests the twins may also be better at learning and creating memories as a result of the procedure.

As part of the collaboration, Imperial students and staff have been given a one-year digital subscription, which also allows users to view additional content as well as exclusive offers and events via Times+. The subscription can be activated via an email link sent out last November. A new link can be requested by contacting thetimespartnership@imperial.ac.uk.