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Lecture - Professor Peter Braude - "The myth of three parent babies and avoidance of mitochondrial disease"

  • Holywell Music Room 36 Holywell Street Oxford (map)

Peter Braude is emeritus professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, King’s College London. He was formerly head of the Division of Women’s Health at King’s and led the Centre for Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis at the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. He has been a member of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and the Nuffield Council on Bioethics Working Group that explored the ethical issues surrounding novel techniques for the prevention of mitochondrial DNA disorder.


Mitochondria are tiny organelles within every cell that regulate the cell’s energy and metabolism. Each mitochondrion has its own small loop of DNA (mtDNA) that is separate and different from the rest of the DNA present as chromosomes in the nucleus of the cell, which is responsible for our inherited characteristics.

A number of untreatable severe, debilitating and potential lethal disorders are caused by mutations in the mitochondrial DNA. New technologies arising from in vitro fertilisation (IVF) may offer a means to avoid passing on these awful diseases, but they are not without significant legal, ethical, and technical difficulties. Such techniques, - often wrongly dubbed creation of three parent babies - are forbidden by law in the UK, but parliament will soon be considering whether or not to amend the law to allow implementation of these techniques, once their safety and efficacy have been demonstrated. Professor Braude will explain the technology involved and explore some of the challenges that this new method presents. 

Please note: Sir Tim Hunt has had to withdraw due to a diary conflict; we are very grateful to Professor Peter Braude PhD FRCOG FMedSci who has agreed to replace him at short notice.  Professor Braude's talk is also related to DNA and is entitled "The myth of three parent babies and avoidance of mitochondrial disease".