Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Genetically Altered Babies Story: More Information Surfaces on Researcher's California Links

More details are emerging this week concerning the California connections of the man behind what are being described as the world's first gene-edited babies. 

The scientist is He Jiankui, who spent two years in a lab at Stanford University, according to the lab's web site.

Lisa Krieger of the San Jose Mercury News has produced a roundup of the information about the researcher's activities in the Golden State. They include the connections with Stephen Quake of Stanford, who heads the lab where 
He Jiankui worked from 2010 to 2012.

She reported that Quake is declining any comment on 
He Jiankui.

Also mentioned in Krieger's piece are Mark Dewitt of UC Berkeley, William Hurlburt of Stanford and Jennifer Doudna, also of Berkeley.

Another useful piece exploring 
He Jiankui's training was produced by Sharon Begley, Andrew Joseph and Rebecca Robbins at STAT. The article takes a broad look at the researcher's training and background.

One cautionary note: The "facts" in this ongoing tale sometimes seem in conflict and sometimes murky. UC Davis' Paul Knoepfler raised the matter on his blog yesterday in an item headlined, 
"Trying to connect the dots on CRISPR baby story paints a dark, cloudy picture."
Even determining the number of years He Jiankui worked at Stanford is in question. Quake's lab clearly reports two years. STAT reports that it was "about a year" without identifying a source. A relatively minor point, but if that can't be nailed down, what else is missing? As Knoepfler wrote, much murkiness exists in the morass of stories and commentary that has emerged this week.

The caveat for those who follow this matter? As the old adage goes,
"Even if your mother says it's true, check it out."

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