CRISPR, complexity and metaphors


Centenary researcher Dr Elinor Hortle has written an article for The Conversation, exploring the gene editing technique CRISPR as well as discussing the way in which metaphors are often used in science communication to the public. She argues that simple metaphors can sometimes mask the true complexity of the task at hand, trying to find cures for complex and challenging diseases. You can read the full article here –

Article Title: Why the ‘molecular scissors’ metaphor for understanding CRISPR is misleading.

“I think all scientists want to communicate their research in a way that’s easy for everyone to understand. But I worry that by simplifying things too much, we end up over-promising on what’s currently achievable, and that erodes public trust in science and medicine. Gene editing tools such as CRISPR certainly have an amazing potential to deliver some fantastic health outcomes in the years ahead, but the community should also be aware that such research is time consuming, complicated and demanding due to the incredibly complex nature of disease,” says Dr Hortle.

Dr Elinor Hortle is a post-doctoral researcher at the Centenary Institute, interested in studying the interactions between hosts and pathogens.

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