Chinese scientist He Jiankui, at a public conference in Hong Kong, announces that he has altered the DNA of twin human girls born earlier in the month to try to make them resistant to infection with the HIV virus.

28/11/2018View on timeline

He Jiankui is a Chinese biophysics researcher who was an associate professor in the Department of Biology of the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) in Shenzhen, China.

He became widely known in November 2018 after he had claimed that he had created the first human genetically edited babies, twin girls known by their pseudonyms, Lulu and Nana. The announcement in November 2018 of Lulu and Nana, who were born by mid-October 2018, was met with widespread condemnation, and on 29 November 2018, Chinese authorities suspended all his research activities. Dr. William Hurlbut, Stanford University neuroscientist and bioethicist, reported that He is staying in a university apartment in Shenzhen “by mutual agreement” and is free to leave; often visiting the gym and taking walks with his wife. Nonetheless, He may be under some form of surveillance, and may face serious consequences. On January 21, 2019, He was fired by SUSTech according to the university's announcement.

In May 2019, lawyers in China reported, in light of the purported creation by He Jiankui of the first gene-edited humans, the drafting of regulations that anyone manipulating the human genome by gene-editing techniques, like CRISPR, would be held responsible for any related adverse consequences.

He Jiankui

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Published in 20/05/2019

Updated in 19/02/2021

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