Coming together on science, technology and the Christian faith

2017 Ecumenical Roundtable in Chicago, April 27-29

2017 Ecumenical Roundtable in Chicago, April 27-29

Here’s the full agenda for the 2017 Ecumenical Roundtable for Science, Technology and the Church. The event will be held at the Lutheran Center in Chicago on April 27-29, and this year’s theme is Being the Church in the Age of Biological Manipulation. Invited speakers and guests include Dr. Grace Wolf-Chase,  Dr. Gayle Woloschak and Dr. Barbara Rossing.

2017 Ecumenical Roundtable in Chicago, April 27-29

The event is not open to the public, but a discussion session is. Click here for the flyer.

Wednesday, April 26

Holiday Inn

8:00-9:30 p.m. — ERT Hospitality Suite for early arrivals

Thursday, April 27

11th Floor, Lutheran Center

8:15 a.m. — Shuttle from Holiday Inn to Lutheran Center

8:30 a.m. — Denominational working groups (beverage & snacks provided approximately at 9:45)

12:00 p.m. — Lunch (catered)

1:00 p.m. — Denominational working groups (breaks as desired)

Dinner (Groups on own)

7:15 – 9:00 p.m. — ERT Hospitality Suite (at Holiday Inn)

Friday, April 28

11th Floor & 1st Floor, Lutheran Center

8:15 a.m. — Shuttle from Holiday Inn to Lutheran Center

8:30 a.m. — Denominational working groups

9:45 a.m. — Break (Snacks)

10:00 a.m. — Session I: Roundtable Business

11:15 a.m. — Presentation I: Dr. Grace Wolf-Chase “Connecting Public Science Participation with Faith Communities”

12:15 p.m. — Lunch (catered)

1:15 p.m. —Session II: Roundtable business

3:00 p.m. — Health break

3:45 p.m. — Presentation II: Dr. Gayle Woloschak on Scientific & Ethical Reflections on CRISPR; at Augsburg Room, with Panel respondents

5:15 p.m. — Dinner (catered)

7:00 p.m. — Two-part Public Lecture Series

Dr. Gayle Woloschak: What the heck is CRISPR & Why It Matters: A quick review

Dr. Barbara Rossing: Christ the Healer and the Age of Biological Manipulation; at Augsburg Room, with Panel respondents

8:30 p.m. — Reception

9:15 p.m. — Shuttle to hotel

Saturday, April 29

11th Floor, Lutheran Center

8:15 a.m. — Shuttle from Holiday Inn to Lutheran Center

8:30 a.m. —Holy Communion (Chapel)

9:30 a.m. —Break

9:45 a.m. — Session III: Roundtable Business

11:45 a.m. — Farewell & departure (Box lunches provided)


Dr. Barbara Rossing is professor of New Testament at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, where she has taught since 1994. She loves to teach and preach about the Bible, including the Bible’s role in public life. An avid
environmentalist, Rossing is involved with environmental initiatives at the seminary. Rossing received the bachelor of arts degree from Carleton College, the master of divinity degree from Yale University Divinity School and the doctor of theology degree from Harvard University.

Dr. Gayle Woloschak is currently a professor of Radiation Oncology at Northwestern University in Chicago and an adjunct professor of Religion and Science at Lutheran School of Theology Chicago, and at Pittsburgh Theological
Seminary. She holds a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Toledo (Medical College of Ohio), and a D.Min. in Eastern Christian Studies from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Her laboratory interests include molecular biology, radiation biology and nano-biotechnology, and her science-religion fields include biological evolution, stem cell research, and ecology.

Dr. Grace Wolf-Chase holds a Bachelor’s degree in Physics from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Arizona. In 1998, she accepted a “Tenure-Track Equivalent” position combining academic research at the University of Chicago with public education at the Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum. Her primary research interests are protostars, protostellar outflows, and the impact of outflows on the evolution of molecular clouds.

Background Description for Presentations

Each year, staff of Science magazine (published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science), single out a significant scientific development or achievement as the “Breakthrough of the Year.” In 2015, CRISPR-Cas received this designation because it allows precision genome-editing, a dramatic advance with abiding ethical implications. The brief history below exemplifies those implications.

The use of CRISPR-Cas to genetically modify a human embryo was first reported in April 2015 by Chinese scientists, who used “non-viable” embryos in their attempt to modify the gene for a fatal blood disorder. A year later, a second team of Chinese researchers reported their work on human embryos (also unsuitable for IVF implantation) in an attempt to introduce a genetic mutation that would produce resistance to HIV. In September 2016, it was reported1 that a Swedish scientist has become the first researcher to use CRISPR-Cas to modify healthy human embryos. The researcher states this is basic research on donated embryos which seeks to identify how genes regulate early embryonic development, with the stated goal of finding ways to treat infertility and prevent miscarriages. CRISPR-Cas technology has been used by plant biologists at Penn State to create common white mushrooms resistant to browning by editing out an enzyme from the mushroom. In April 2016, the U.S. Department of

Agriculture decided that the mushroom may be cultivated and sold without going through the agency’s regulatory
process for genetically-modified organisms because it does not contain “foreign” DNA from plant pests (e.g., viruses or bacteria). This browning-resistant mushroom is the first CRISPR-edited organism to receive a “green light” from the U.S. government. CRISPR-Cas has been used to engineer milk cows that don’t produce horns, with the goal of saving the animals from painful horn removal done to prevent injury. In the medical arena, CRISP-Cas has been successful in treating human disease in animal models: scientists have used CRISPR in mice to correct a mutation that causes muscular dystrophy and to disrupt a gene that causes Huntington’s disease.