Bioethics expert Françoise Baylis to deliver Carleton convocation on ethics of human genome editing

In her talk, “Altered Inheritance: The Era of Designer Babies,” Baylis will discuss the ethics surrounding human genome editing and delve into her work on the subject.

Erica Helgerud ’20 3 April 2024 Posted In:
Headshot of Françoise Baylis.
Françoise BaylisPhoto:

Françoise Baylis CM, ONS, PhD, FRSC, FCAHS, FISC will deliver the Carleton convocation address on Friday, April 5 from 10:50 to 11:50 a.m. in Skinner Chapel. Her address, “Altered Inheritance: The Era of Designer Babies,” will discuss the ethics surrounding human genome editing and delve into her work on the subject.

Baylis is distinguished research professor, emerita at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada. She is a philosopher whose innovative work in bioethics, at the intersection of policy and practice, has stretched the boundaries of the field. Her work challenges people to think broadly and deeply about the direction of health, science, and biotechnology, and aims to move the limits of mainstream bioethics and develop more effective ways to understand and tackle public policy challenges.

Baylis is the author of Altered Inheritance: CRISPR and the Ethics of Human Genome Editing, which won the 2020 PROSE Award in Clinical Medicine. In a review of the book for The New York Review, Natalie de Souza wrote, “She offers an authoritative, comprehensive guide to the ethical issues around CRISPR, and her central message is clear: heritable human genome editing shouldn’t be treated as inevitable, and the decision to undertake it should be a collective one.” In a review of the book for Science, Adam Hayden wrote, “Commitments to justice, responsibility, accountability, and consensus building are features of a socially just science and bioethics. Toward this end, Altered Inheritance is a foundational tool in the path ahead.”

Baylis was a member of the planning committees for the first and third International Summit on  Human Gene Editing (2015 and 2023), a member of the WHO Expert Advisory Committee on Developing Global Standards for Governance and Oversight of Human Genome Editing (2019–21), and a member of the WHO Working Groups on a Global Guidance Framework for the Responsible Use of the Life Sciences (2021). She is a member of the governing board for the International Science Council and vice chair of its Committee for Freedom and Responsibility in Science.

Baylis is a member of the Order of Canada and the Order of Nova Scotia, as well as an elected  Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, and the  International Science Council. In 2022, she was awarded the Killam Prize for the Humanities,  Canada’s most distinguished award for humanities scholars.

This convocation will also be live streamed — please register in advance to receive information on how to attend via Zoom. Carleton convocations are free and open to the public. Find upcoming events and archived recordings (including in podcast form) on the convocations website. For more information, including disability accommodations, call 507-222-5461 or email

After each convocation address, Carleton hosts a luncheon with the speaker. Convocation luncheon is held in the Alumni Guest House Meeting Room (unless otherwise noted) from noon to 1 p.m. and is generally limited to 35 people. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP on the convocations website.

Erica Helgerud ’20 is the news and social media manager for Carleton College.