Officials at Stanford University have opened an investigation into what several high-profile faculty members knew about a Chinese effort to create gene-edited babies led by a onetime researcher at the California school, He Jiankui.
The investigation, according to people familiar with it, aims to understand what liabilities or risks Stanford may have in connection with the controversial medical experiment, which led last year to the birth of two girls whose genomes had been altered with a molecular tool called CRISPR to render them immune to HIV.
Stanford launched the investigation following media reports that three of its faculty—more than at any other institution—were aware of He’s plans to create the gene-edited children. They are William Hurlbut, a medical ethicist and theologian who interacted extensively with He over many months; gene-editing specialist Matthew Porteus; and Stephen Quake, a biophysicist who holds a powerful role as co-president of the $600 million Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, as well as being He’s former postdoc advisor.
[I]nvestigators may hope to clarify whether any Stanford employees assisted He or had financial entanglements with him, or what steps they could have taken to stop him.
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