He Jiankui, largely unknown until yesterday, is an associate professor at the China University of Science and Technology South Shenzhen (科技 大 or SUSTC).
The researcher based in Guangdong Province reported using the CRISPR gene editing tool on embryos from seven different couples during an IVF treatment, which resulted in the birth of binoculars this month.
CRISPR is a molecular tool that allows scientists to edit sections of DNA. Many researchers are interested in using this technology to eliminate or treat genetic diseases, as reported by Business Insider.
The result He claims to be newborn twins immunized against HIV through CRISPR DNA.
According to an Associated Press report, He Jiankui said that the father had the disease and that the mother did not suffer from it. He stated that his ultimate goal was to change the genes of babies so as to protect them from future HIV infection.
The University of Shenzhen distanced itself from He in a statement Monday stating that the researcher was on leave without pay since February 1, 2018 and that he should not return until January 2021.
His academic council stated that he had "seriously violated ethics and academic standards".
"Our school will immediately hire experts to set up an independent committee to conduct thorough investigations and publish relevant information after investigation," SUSTC said in a statement.
Read more: Chinese researcher says first genetically modified babies are born and scientists are disturbed
Caixin reports that he also runs six companies in China, mainly in the genetics sector.
When he was contacted by the Chinese magazine, a representative of Shenzhen Hanhai, one of the companies he heads – refused to say he was aware of the project, but had informed Caixin that the Experience had not been conducted in their premises.
The experience has never been verified or published in a scientific journal.
The Chinese daily People's Daily published an article online about it on Monday, but then deleted the article.
There was a follow-up article in the Communist Party spokesman's speech, distancing himself from the controversy.
If that is true, the experience is deeply controversial.
The publishing of genes of this nature is illegal in many countries, including the United States. According to Caixin, such experiments are also banned by the Chinese regulatory authorities.
More than 120 Chinese scientists have signed a letter condemning He's claim.
"The project completely ignored the principles of biomedical ethics, conducting experiments on humans without proving that it was safe," said Qiu Zilong, a neuroscience researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. science (中国 科学) from Shanghai, who wrote the letter.
"We can only describe such behavior as crazy."
According to the South China Morning Post, the letter was published on Monday on social media and signed by scientists from some of China's largest research universities, such as Peking University and Tsinghua, as well as from the University of Beijing. foreign institutions, including Stanford in the United States. Singapore Agency for Science, Technology and Research.