BioGovernance Commons Session on CRISPR

The first two months of 2023 were exceptionally intense for me. One main reason was that I, and Prof. Ruipeng Lei in China co-organised another BioGovernance Commons session on 11 Feburary. It was the first time that Jiankui He agreed to speak at a open discussion with Chinese academics on CRISPR technology since his release from prison. The event was titled ‘Looking Back into the Future: CRISPR and Social Values’.

We originally invited He to share his reflections on both his past and ongoing research. However, 17 hours before the event, He announced on twitter that he was not ready to discuss the past. We thus anticipated that He may use the event as a publicity stunt, but having his response – or non-response – to critical questioning recorded in a public event was also of public interest.

The event lasted more than 2 hours and attracted participants from 13 different countries, as well as academics from at least 12 of the 34 provincial jurisdictions in China. In total, approximately 110 people attended the meeting, 70 of which were based in China.

We’ve exposed that there is little substance behind the ambitious Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) gene therapy that Dr. Jiankui He, the scientist behind the illegal heritable human genome editing, has been boasting about to global patients. We were concerned that he might endanger another vulnerable population if his new venture remains unchecked. Our event nudged Chinese media to publicly challenge Dr. He for the first time on his DMD research. As a result Dr. He has announced that he will prioritise research rather than social media promotion.

You can read the event announcement and full report here.

Here are also a list of media reportages that may give you a summary of the event and its impact.

Listen to the two extended interviews about this event

Science in Action (starting 6:30)

ABC Radio National (Australia)

Other reports:

BBC Radio 4 Inside Science (from the beginning)

Associated Press

China’s Science and Technology Daily

Global Times



South China Morning Post 12

Yahoo News Japan

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: