creation of the world’s first gene-edited babies squarely on the shoulders of lead researcher He Jiankui.ollowing a preliminary investigation, Chinese authorities have placed the blame for the
An associate professor at the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, He became the most infamous scientist on the planet back in November following his announcement that he had used the powerful gene-editing tool CRISPR to create a pair of twins who were immune from contracting HIV.
The investigation team in Guangdong province tasked with looking into He’s claims announced on Monday that the Stanford-trained scientist had deliberately avoided supervision, even forging ethical review papers, while organizing and conducting research into human embryo gene-editing for the purpose of reproduction that was illegal as well as of “an uncertain safety level.” The team charged that in doing so He was after “personal fame and fortune.”
At an academic conference in Hong Kong in November, He had defended his research, declaring that he was proud of what he had accomplished, arguing that his goal was only to prevent babies born to HIV positive parents from inheriting the terrible defense. He had believed that once his study was made public he would be hailed as a hero. Instead, he was widely denounced for crossing every line, scientifically and ethically, opening up a Pandora’s box to a world where “designer babies” were suddenly a reality.
Following that conference, He went missing, only to later turn up under house arrest back in Shenzhen at a university dormitory.
He Jiankui who shocked the science world by announcing he created the world’s first genetically edited babies had been missing since a November conference in Hong Kong. @elsiechenyi found him under house arrest at a dorm at his university in Shenzhen. https://t.co/t1pbxplwns
— Paul Mozur (@paulmozur) December 29, 2018
The investigation team noted that He had recruited eight couples for his research, resulting in two pregnancies. One woman gave birth to the twins, Lulu and Nana. The other woman is still pregnant and will be kept under close observation by provincial health authorities.
For having “seriously violated relevant regulations,” He faces “serious punishment.”