Kevin Esvelt


MIT Professor Kevin M. Esvelt was the first to discover that CRISPR-based gene drive systems could edit wild populations. Unusually, he and his colleagues chose to publicly describe the technology and highlight the need for safeguards before testing it and demonstrating reversibility in the laboratory; his lab has since taken a leading role in developing safeguards and localization methods. The author of numerous relevant patents, Esvelt has called for gene drive to remain a not-for-profit technology and worked to leverage intellectual property to keep it that way. An outspoken advocate of sharing research plans to accelerate discovery and improve safety, he has led efforts to ensure that all ecological editing research is open and community-guided, and his team is currently working closely with communities in Massachusetts, Aotearoa New Zealand, and Uruguay on diverse ecological editing projects.