One of the biggest science stories of 2018 was the news that a Chinese scientist, He Jiankui, claimed to have delivered 2 babies whose genome was edited to protect them against developing HIV. This news sent shock waves throughout the scientific community across the world with almost all scientists expressing dismay that He had used the technique in a clinical trial before the research community have completed the research to show that human genome editing is safe and way before the public have had the opportunity to fully debate the ethical and scientific implications of going down this road.
The news broke on the eve of a major global meeting on genome editing taking place in Hong Kong organised by our friend Professor Robin Lovell Badge from the Crick Institute. Robin was at the private dinner the night before the meeting where he and fellow scientists quizzed He about the news story broken by AP and he chaired the session the following day where He addressed the meeting about his work. This has given Robin a unique insight into He as a scientist and a man and he agreed to come into the SMC to answer our questions about: