Palo alto, calif. -- "success! The subject line of the email says. The letter, written in flawed English, begins: "good news! Women get pregnant, genomes are edited!"
The author is he jiankui, an ambitious young Chinese scientist. The recipient was his former academic mentor, Stephen Quake, a star bioengineer and inventor at Stanford.
Wow, that's an amazing achievement! Quick wrote back. "Hopefully she'll make it through... "
A few months later, the world knew the results of that pregnancy: the genetically modified embryos gave birth to twins, the first genetically edited babies. The reaction was fierce. Many scientists and ethicists condemned the experiment as unethical and unsafe, fearing it would encourage reckless or reckless use of unproven and unregulated methods to create permanent genetic changes.
In January, an investigation by the Chinese government concluded that he had "seriously violated ethics, scientific research integrity and relevant state regulations."
Since Dr. He made his research public in November, there has been controversy over whether other American scientists knew about his plans and why they kept it secret.
But now quick is facing a Stanford investigation into his dealings with Dr. He. The investigation began after the President of Dr. He's university in China sent a letter to Stanford's President saying Mr. Quick had offered his help.
Professor Stephen quick provided guidance on the preparation and implementation of experiments, the publication of papers, press releases and subsequent response strategies, the school's President said in the letter obtained by the New York times. Mr Quick's actions, he asserted, were "contrary to internationally accepted academic ethics and codes of conduct and must be condemned".
Mr. Quick denied the allegations in a lengthy interview, saying his interactions with Dr. He had been misunderstood. He jiankui was a postdoctoral student in his lab eight years ago.
I had nothing to do with it, and I had no part in it, quick said. "I have high ethical standards for myself."
Mr. Quick showed the New York times emails he said he had exchanged with Dr. He over the past few years. These communications shed light on the informal ways in which researchers operate in a rapidly evolving and ethically controversial field.
The emails show that Dr. He, 35, informed Ms. Quick, 49, of significant developments, including the woman's pregnancy and delivery. According to the email, quick advised him to get ethical approval from the Chinese authorities and submit his findings to a peer-reviewed journal for review, promising to discuss issues such as when to publish them publicly.
It is not clear from the text that quick was involved in the research. Emails do contain polite encouragement, such as "good luck". Mr. Quick said he had urged him not to proceed with the project at a meeting in August 2016, but that the emails, which were mostly sent in 2017 and 2018, showed that Mr. He had not stopped.
As global bodies such as the World Health Organization work to create a system to prevent reckless scientists from ventoring into the wild west of embryo editing, Mr. Quick's interaction with Dr. He reflects the problems leading scientific institutions are now grappling with.
隨著世界衛生組織(World Health Organization)等全球性機構致力于創建一個系統，以防那些莽撞的科學家擅闖胚胎編輯這個蠻荒西部，奎克與賀建奎的互動反映了領先的科研機構目前正在努力解決的問題。
When and where should scientists report controversial research ideas that colleagues privately share with them? Is it inappropriate for scientists to offer conventional research advice to unorthodox experimenters?
A lot of people would like to hear more from people who knew or suspected. "Said r. Alta Charo, a bioethicist at the University of wisconsin-madison and one of the leaders of the 2017 national human embryo editorial board.
“很多人希望那些事先知道或懷疑過的人呼聲能再大一些。”威斯康辛大學麥迪遜分校(University of Wisconsin-Madison)的生物倫理學家、2017年全國人類胚胎編輯委員會領導人之一R·奧塔·查洛(R. Alta Charo)說。
But, she said, if scientists are not trying to stop rogue experimenters, but merely advising them to follow ethical and research standards in the hope that institutions will intervene, they are not necessarily complicit.
Rice University has been investigating Dr. He's doctoral supervisor, Michael Deem, for allegedly being an active participant in the project; He has publicly said he was present during parts of the project. Dean's lawyer issued a strong denial of the charges.
萊斯大學(Rice University)一直在調查賀建奎的博士生導師邁克爾·迪恩(Michael Deem)，因為有說法指他曾積極參與這一項目；他曾公開表示項目的部分環節進行期間有他在場。迪恩的律師發表了強烈否認這些指控的聲明。
Mr. Quick's Shared letter provided new details about Dr. He's project, also known as germline editing, including that the twin girls were severely premature and were hospitalized for several weeks after birth. They were born in October, which contradicted previous reports.
Quick is an entrepreneur whose inventions include blood tests to detect down syndrome during pregnancy and to avoid rejection of organ transplants. He is co-director of an institute funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan. He does not do gene editing and said he was surprised when Dr. He told him during a visit to Stanford in 2016 that he wanted to be the first person to create a gene-edited baby.
奎克是一名企業家，他的發明包括用于檢測妊娠期唐氏綜合癥以及避免器官移植排異的血液檢測。他是由Facebook創始人馬克·扎克伯格(Mark Zuckerberg)和妻子普莉希拉·陳博士(Priscilla Chan)資助的一個研究所的聯席所長。他不做基因編輯，并表示當賀建奎在2016年訪問斯坦福期間告訴他，他想成為創建基因編輯嬰兒的第一人時，他感到很驚訝。
I said, 'that's a terrible idea. Why are you doing this? ' quick recalled. "He kind of contradicted me. Obviously he didn't listen to me."
Quick changed tack. "I said, 'well, if I think it's a bad idea and you don't believe it, and you want to go down that path, then you need to treat it right, and have proper respect for the people involved, and the field. '"
That means getting the equivalent of an IRB ethical approval, as well as the informed consent of the participating couples to simply edit the gene to meet a serious medical need, quick suggests.
I didn't think he was going to take it seriously, Mr. Quick said, adding that he thought Mr. He had sought ethical approval and was rejected. "probably he would have given up."
Not long after, he jiankui emailed: "I will accept your suggestion that we obtain local ethical approval before embarking on the first gene-editing baby project. Keep it a secret."
In June 2017, Dr. He jiankui, also known as JK, issued a document saying that a hospital ethics committee had approved his proposal, in which he boasted that his plan was comparable to Nobel research.
It was nice to see him contact his IRB counterpart and get approval to conduct the study, and I thought it was their responsibility to manage that, quick said in an interview. "If I had detected any signs of misconduct in my interaction with JK, I would have handled it differently. And I will be very active in reporting it."
In his 2017 letter, Dr. He said he would edit a gene called CCR5 to change a mutation that makes people infected with HIV. Many scientists have since said it was medically unnecessary because babies born to hiv-positive parents could be protected in other ways. Quick says he doesn't think there is a scientific consensus on this.
In early April 2018, it was titled "success! "An embryo that edited the CCR5 gene was transplanted into a woman 10 days ago, and pregnancy has been confirmed today!"
Quick did not immediately respond, but forwarded the email to what he called a senior gene editor. "I think he can give me some advice." He blacked out the expert's name.
For your information, this may be the first human germ cell edit, quick wrote. "I urged him to get IRB approval, and as far as I know, he did. His goal is to help hiv-positive parents get pregnant. It's too early for him to celebrate, but I think if she gets pregnant, it will be big news."
The expert replied: "I just told someone last week that I think this has happened. This must be news... "
Quick found the response "very bland." "He's not surprised. He didn't say, 'oh my god, you have to notify the mystery science police,' "quick said.
Six months later, in mid-october, he sent another E-mail: "good news! The baby was born (please keep it a secret)."
Mr He asked to meet Mr Quick during his planned trip to San Francisco, saying: "I want your help on how to announce the results, and on pr and ethics."
Quick replied, "we definitely want to meet."
During that meeting, Mr. Quick recalled, he told Mr. He about what he had done. "I also pressured him to get ethical clearance. I said it's going to get a lot of attention, it's going to get a lot of scrutiny. Are you sure you're doing everything right?"
He said he was upset by Dr. He's response. "The gimmick came back: 'actually two hospitals were involved, you know, we got approval from one hospital, we were doing it in both hospitals. 'I said,' you'd better fix this. '"
Back in China, Dr. He wrote: "the good news is that the hospital conducting the clinical trial approved the ethical material," he added. "they signed off on the ethical material from another hospital."
Quick replied, "good news, thanks for the update."
About a week later, Mr. Quick was contacted by his publicist, Ryan Ferrell, concerned that showing the project publicly so soon would "cause serious and permanent damage to his reputation and the field." "The twins are still in the hospital, so there is no positive image," Farrell added.
Mr. Quick, who was in Hong Kong on other errands during the genome editing conference, met with Dr. He and Mr. Farrell and told them, "people are going to hold you to very high standards," he said. "The first reaction is that you're faking it."
He suggested he submit the study to a peer-reviewed journal, and he did.
Then, because journal reviews take time, Mr. Quick said, he advised Mr. He not to publish the story in Hong Kong, but to speak privately with key experts there to "prepare them for what's going to happen, which also makes it more likely that they will have a positive opinion of your work."
But he was not convinced. "I don't want to wait six months or more before announcing the results, or people will say, 'a Chinese scientist hid the baby for six months. '"
Quick retorted, "it would be wise to let peer review go through the process in a step-by-step manner."
But Dr. He decided to continue his remarks in Hong Kong. When news of the twins broke two days before the speech, quick emailed, "good luck with your upcoming speech!" But it added, "please take my name" off the thank you list.
He was hyping it up, quick explained in an interview. "I really don't know if it's going to be good or bad. But it's not about me. I don't want my name on it."