MIT biochemist Dr. Kevin Esvelt will speak about genetic editing on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the Katharine Cornell Theatre along with Dr. Neel Aluru, an environmental epigeneticist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Dr. Sheila Jasanoff, a bioethicist at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and Dr. Jeantine Lunshof, a bioethicist at University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands who is currently a visiting professor at Harvard.

The event is sponsored by the Vineyard Haven Public Library. The panelists will focus their discussion on CRISPR genome editing, which deploys an enzyme called Cas9 and a piece of RNA to alter an extant DNA sequence.

“The whole idea of the panel is to talk about CRISPR and get people more familiar with it, because it’s going to become an important part of our lives,” said Betty Burton, director of the evening lecture series. “It’s coming down to whether people are ready for it or not. This is the cutting edge of science, and this is where it’s going.”

Ms. Burton has some authority on the matter; she worked as a molecular geneticist in the 1970s. She recalled her own experience with genetic engineering, searching for mutations in single stranded DNA. “It took forever to find what we were looking for,” she said.

By comparison, CRISPR is a revolution — efficient and precise. More importantly, it has pushed forward the bounds of genetic engineering. This has opened up a host of bioethical quandaries, some new, some familiar. Wednesday’s panel will delve into these issues.

Paul Levine, former Harvard and Stanford professor and a West Tisbury resident, will deliver an introductory talk about recombinant DNA.

CRISPR and Genetic Editing: Uncharted Waters will take place at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, August 30 at the Katharine Cornell Theatre in Vineyard Haven.