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Science Writers Celebrate Bioethicist Dr. Robert Klitzman’s ‘Designing Babies’

Robert Klitzman, MD, Academic Director of the Master of Science in Bioethics program, discussed his new book, Designing Babies: How Technology is Changing the Ways We Create Children, at a recent event hosted by Science Writers in New York (SWINY). The event, held 11/13 at a private home on the Upper West Side, featured a conversation between Dr. Klitzman and David Levine, who co-chairs the membership group of science writers and editors.

A Professor of Psychiatry at the College of Physicians and Surgeons and the Joseph Mailman School of Public Health, Dr. Klitzman spoke about his book’s examination of the ethical, social, and policy dilemmas posed by the proliferation of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and other assisted reproductive technologies. As he noted in a recent interview with Columbia News, Dr. Klitzman was inspired to write Designing Babies by interviews he conducted for a previous book, Am I My Genes? Confronting Fate and Family Secrets in the World of Genetic Testing, as well as a personal episode in which a friend asked him to be the sperm donor for her child. 

“I thought about it, and eventually declined,” Dr. Klitzman said, “but became even more interested in the assisted reproductive technology industry and how people were making all of these varied decisions.”

Among the ethical quandaries he explores in the book, Dr. Klitzman is particularly concerned about the risk that gene-editing technology will be used to favor “socially desirable” traits, such as height, hair and eye color, and intelligence.

He added: “I am concerned that these technologies are advancing far beyond our understanding of their ethical, legal and social implications.”


Learn more about the M.S. in Bioethics Program.