From Understanding to Tinkering: The Future of Genome Research

CRISPR inspires scientists and artists alike – in different ways. At Berlin Science Week, the MDC presents the result of an artist residency on genome editing and a debate on whether we know enough about the genome to actually use such tools in humans.

Genome editing tools such as CRISPR are beginning to reshape the physical world around us, one base pair at a time. As an Artist in Residence in labs at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) and at STATE Studio Emilia Tikka explored how this could affect society in the future. Her questions were threefold:

  1. Why do cells age and how could it be stopped or reversed? (Science)
  2. What is behind the human wish to live forever? (Philosophy) and
  3. What would a society look like where people can choose to extend their lifespan? (Speculative scenario).

The result of Emilia Tikka's artist residency on the topic of gene editing at the MDC and the science behind it: the artwork, a mini symposium and a panel discussion.

On November 1st, she will present the resulting artwork called “AEON - Trajectories of Longevity and CRISPR” at the new science art gallery STATE Studio in Berlin.

Photo from the artwork ÆON

Tikkas art is designed to spark debate. Prominent scientists from the MDC will join her and provide even more food for thought. In three short keynotes Dr. Roland Schwarz (MDC Group Leader “Evolutionary and Cancer Genomics”), Dr. Sascha Sauer (Head of the MDC Scientific Genomics Platforms), and Professor Simone Spuler (University Outpatient Clinic for Muscle Disorders, Experimental and Clinical Research Center at the MDC) will speak about their own quest to find and understand patterns in the human genome that are relevant to health and disease, and even their plans to edit genes in order to help patients.

Together with renowned bioethicist Professor Jens Reich (MDC) they will discuss how far along we are on our way from understanding the genome to tinkering with it – and what the future might hold. The panel is moderated by Dr. Luiza Bengtsson. Refreshments will be provided. 

The artist residency was funded by the EU ORION Open Science Project, which aims to engage society in discussions of the risks and opportunities presented by disruptive technologies. 

Time and Place

November 1st, 2018, 5 – 8 p.m.

Berlin Science Week Meeting Hub @ STATE Studio, Hauptstrasse 3, 10827 Berlin (underground station Kleistpark)

To register for the mini-symposium with guided tours, keynotes, panel discussion and refreshments please send an email to:

Further details

Further information