Skip to content

CRISPRcon 2020 Virtual: Race and Health Equity

412 people attended
CRISPRcon 2020 Virtual presents a series of dialogues exploring gene editing’s role in COVID-19 testing and treatment, racial disparities and inequities, strategies to address climate change, and other pressing issues. In a year that has transformed the world in unexpected ways, join us virtually for a dynamic, diverse, and timely lineup of interactive discussions that consider gene editing across applications, disciplines, geographies, communities, cultures, and perspectives. For more information about CRISPRcon 2020 including our sponsors, partners, and complete fall lineup, please visit


In early June, almost 1,300 epidemiologists signed onto an open letter supporting protests across the country, describing white supremacy as a “lethal public health issue that predates and contributes to COVID-19.” The twin crises of 2020 – one 400 years in the making and the second beginning last year in Wuhan, China – make clear the relationship between racism and public health. This week’s sessions tackle race and health equity, exploring the relationship among race, gene editing, and COVID-19 and opportunities to responsibly innovate with the meaningful inclusion of Black voices in science, technology, and healthcare. 

Tuesday, September 15

In partnership with Howard University
Race, gene editing, and COVID-19: How far does CRISPR get us toward health equity?
The COVID-19 crisis is affecting everyone, but in the United States, Black communities are contracting COVID-19 and dying at higher rates because of race-based inequities that persist in American society. In parallel, scientists are using CRISPR and other gene editing tools to develop COVID-19 vaccines and to create cures for other diseases that disproportionately impact Black communities. How might gene editing-focused approaches exacerbate and/or address racial health disparities, the various factors from which they arise, and the diseases in which they manifest? How far will gene editing really get us toward health equity?

Thursday, September 17

In partnership with Howard University
Responsible innovation, gene editing, and race: Amplifying Black perspectives in pursuit of improved health outcomes
For various reasons, many Americans don’t trust scientific guidance or information. As we are witnessing with COVID-19, in a public health crisis, it is easy for misinformation, miscommunication, fear, and confusion to take root, especially without a baseline of “trust” or understanding among the scientific community, government institutions, technology companies, and the general public. What does COVID-19 reveal about the relationship between these institutions and the public – especially Black Americans? Are there models for innovating in responsible ways, using gene editing or other technologies, that better incorporate the voices of Black Americans?

Thursday, September 17

Ideas Marketplace: breakout discussions on Race and Health Equity

Immediately following the panel discussion, we will hold an Ideas Marketplace, where volunteer hosts will lead other CRISPRcon participants in informal video breakout discussions on a topic of the host’s choice. (Interested in being a discussion host? Apply here)

CRISPRcon 2020 Virtual returns September 29-October 1 with discussions on Hope and Hype. To register for this next event, please visit CRISPRcon 2020 Virtual: Hope and Hype


· Stage
CRISPRcon: Race, gene editing, and COVID-19
Race, gene editing, and COVID-19: How far does CRISPR get us toward health equity? **Content developed in partnership with Howard University
Roderick McCullom Debra Roberts LaTasha Lee Carla Easter
· Stage
CRISPRcon: Responsible innovation, gene editing, and race
Amplifying Black perspectives in pursuit of improved health outcomes **Content developed in partnership with Howard University
Akua  Page Jennifer Caldwell Eric  Kyere Latifa Jackson
· Sessions
CRISPRcon: Ideas Marketplace
Hosted breakout discussions


Akua Page

Geechee Language and Cultural Activist

Carla Easter

Chief, Education and Community Involvement Branch, National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH

Latifa Jackson

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Howard University

Eric Kyere

Assistant Professor of Social Work and Adjunct Professor of Africana Studies, Indiana University

Jennifer Caldwell

Doctoral Student, Graduate Researcher in the W. Montague Cobb Research Lab

LaTasha Lee

Vice President, Social and Clinical Research & Development, National Minority Quality Forum

Debra Roberts

Professor and Chair, Department of Psychology at Howard University

Roderick McCullom

Science and Technology Writer

The event is over

Hosted by

Keystone Policy Center

CRISPRcon is a unique forum bringing diverse voices together to discuss the future of CRISPR and related gene editing technologies across applications

Share on


What is CRISPRcon?

Rather than a traditional science conference, CRISPRcon is a dialogue across disciplines and perspectives

2020 flash talk: Michael Friend, Minority Coalition for Precision Medicine

Community Engagement on CRISPR and Sickle Cell Disease

Partner: Howard University

Continuing to build a culture of academic excellence and rigor that prepares talented students to solve local and global problems

2020 flash talk: Vick Mahase

Using CRISPR to research – and ultimately vaccinate against – COVID-19 in African Americans

Sponsor: United Soybean Board

Helping to ensure a strong and profitable future for U.S. soybean farmers

Sponsor: Corteva Agriscience

Growing progress and ensuring the success of generations to come

Keystone Policy Center

Empowering leaders to thoughtfully engage on complex policy issues

What is CRISPR?

Genome Editing with CRISPR-Cas9

What is CRISPR?

Introduction to CRISPR-Cas9 Genome Editing

What is CRISPR?

What is gene editing, and what is somatic vs. germline editing?

2020 talk: Calandra McCool

Watch the full presentation from panelist Calandra McCool, Associate Attorney, Big Fire Law and Policy Group

2020 talk: Devon Peña

Watch the full presentation from panelist Dr. Devon Peña, Professor, University of Washington