Catalyst: Anna Lewis


New Modality Catalyst:
Anna Lewis, Biotech Ethicist and Researcher


Profile edited by Katie MacBride

Photo courtesy of Anna Lewis
Last update: 10/21/19


Anna Lewis is a joint fellow-in-residence at Harvard's Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics and the Center for Bioethics. She's also a NewMo Catalyst, and she wrote one of our first articles, "The Ideology of Transhumanism: The Ethics of Transcending Our Physical Bodies."

Tell us about yourself and your work.

I worked for several years in the genetics industry in the Bay Area, writing and designing software for interpreting genomes. But the questions that kept me up at night started to be the bigger-picture ones: what do we want to know about ourselves? And how should we let that information impact our lives? I recently moved to Boston to think about these things full-time.

As an example of the type of question I'm thinking about right now: how many years of education did you complete? If you're white and US or UK based, then DNA is now a better predictor of that number than your parent's income. This isn't genetic determinism. It's the fact that our DNA-based probabilistic predictions about a range of traits just got a whole lot better. Now that we have those predictions, how should we handle them as a society?

Where can we find out more about you and your work? 

If you're interested in what's new in genetics, I post a Round-Up about once a month at All The Coolest Genomics. For more reflective pieces, I blog at Medium. My website is here.


New Modality Catalysts

The New Modality is about experiments in culture — and the people who do those experiments. NewMo Catalysts are people who do things we admire and want to celebrate. They also help us stay accountable to our values. To learn more about NewMo Catalysts (or nominate someone to be a Catalyst), check out the Catalyst FAQ.

This profile was edited by Katie MacBride. Katie is a writer and co-founder of Anxy magazine. More about Katie at her NewMo profile

The information in our Catalyst profiles usually comes directly from the subjects, and we usually don't fact-check them. You can learn more about The New Modality's fact-checking and epistemological ideas by reading the page about our process for truth and transparency.