The New Yorker profiled He Jiankui, a Chinese scientist known for using CRISPR gene editing on human embryos, which resulted in the birth of three gene-edited babies. He Jiankui, known as JK, aimed to cure severe diseases and extend the human lifespan to 120 years. His controversial work, particularly the editing of embryos for HIV immunity, led to significant criticism, his infamy, and eventually a prison sentence. JK’s overarching ambition was to revolutionize human health and legacy by creating a “genetic vaccine” against many of humanity’s ailments.
- He Jiankui used CRISPR gene editing on human embryos, leading to the birth of three gene-edited babies, Lulu, Nana, and Amy, with the intention of making them immune to HIV.
- JK’s goals were expansive; he aimed to cure major diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, and HIV, and to extend human life expectancy to 120 years.
- The Chinese scientist sought ethical guidance from peers, including DNA structure co-discoverer James Watson, who responded with “Make people better.”
- At China’s Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech), JK envisioned himself as “China’s Edison” and believed that his genome editing would lead to a smarter, stronger, and healthier humanity.
- The details and health statuses of the parents and children involved in JK’s experiments remain largely unknown.