Gene-Edited Babies: What a Chinese Scientist Told an American Mentor


He suggested Dr. He to submit the analysis to a peer-reviewed journal, and Dr. He did so.

Then, as a result of journal assessment takes time, Dr. Quake stated he suggested Dr. He to not go public in Hong Kong, however to talk privately with key specialists there to allow them to “get socialized to what’s coming and will be more likely to comment favorably on your work.”

But Dr. He was not persuaded. “I do not want to wait for 6 months or longer to announce the results, otherwise, people will say ‘a Chinese scientist secretly hide the baby for 6 months.’”

Dr. Quake pushed again: “It is prudent to let the peer review process follow its course.”

But Dr. He went ahead together with his Hong Kong speak. Two days earlier than it, after information of the twins broke, Dr. Quake emailed, “Good luck with your upcoming presentation!” But he added, “please remove my name” from the slide acknowledging individuals who had helped.

“He was spinning up this huge press thing around it,” Dr. Quake defined within the interview. “It was going to go well or poorly, I didn’t really know. But it wasn’t something I was involved in and I didn’t want my name on it.”

Dr. Quake shouldn’t be certain what penalties he thinks Dr. He ought to face.

But he believes that the shock and horror some scientists now categorical belies the unruffled response of the specialists he consulted.

Asked if he ought to have dealt with issues otherwise, Dr. Quake stated: “Well, hindsight is 20-20. I mean, you could say yes I should have done many other things.”

“But,” he continued, “as these things unfold, you’re in the moment, and you know, he’s doing legitimate scientific research — many people would define it that way. He’s got I.R.B. approval and his institution is regulating the human subject stuff and you sort of believe all that.”

He added: “To the extent that it wasn’t obvious misconduct, what does a person in my position do? Encourage him to do it right, his research, right? I mean, that’s what I believed I was doing.”



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