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Meet the doctor leading research on ethically fraught ‘three-parent’ babies

| | May 24, 2018
Fertility specialist John Zhang holds newborn "three parent" baby. Image credit: NEW HOPE FERTILITY CENTER
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

When future historians look back on the 21st century, one of the most iconic photos may be of a smiling, dark-haired man in blue scrubs protectively holding a newborn — the world’s first commercially produced “three-parent” baby.

This is John Zhang, the Chinese-born, British-educated founder and medical director of a Manhattan fertility center that is blowing up the way humans reproduce.

In a feature about 10 people who matter in science, the journal Nature dubbed Zhang a “fertility rebel.” For others — including U.S. regulators — the baby’s birth marked an unnerving step down the slippery slope of tinkering with human life in ways that are not fully understood.

Last August, the FDA ordered Zhang to stop marketing the technology, effectively shutting down the program.

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Zhang himself declined to discuss regulatory matters. But, he said, “my personal opinion is very simple: Any technology will eventually benefit mankind and should be allowed. Look at history: People were against antibiotics, general anesthesia, vaccines” — scientific developments that wound up saving millions of lives.

[D]octors should “not be gatekeepers, but educators and counselors.”

“Too often, we think we are big doctors and we know everything. Too many times we talk about ‘expert opinions,’ ” Zhang said. “But very often I have found when we discuss everything we have not thought enough about what the patient really wants.”

Read full, original post: This fertility doctor is pushing the boundaries of human reproduction, with little regulation

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