Prison Sentences for Chinese Scientist Who Changed Babies' Genes
A Chinese court has sentenced the scientist who created the world's first "gene-edited" babies to three years in prison.
He Jiankui was found guilty of illegally practicing medicine and violating research laws. China's official Xinhua news agency announced the court's decision Monday.
In November 2018, He Jiankui was working as an associate professor at Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen. He announced to the world that he had used gene-editing technology known as CRISPR-Cas9 to change the genes of twin baby girls. He claimed to have protected them from getting infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
The announcement fueled an international debate over the ethics of gene editing. The identity of the girls has not been released, and it is not clear if the experiment succeeded.
The CRISPR tool has been tested in other places to treat diseases in adults. But many in the scientific community rejected He's work as medically unnecessary and morally wrong. That is because the genetic changes could be passed down to future generations. The United States bans editing embryos except for laboratory research.
In 2018, He Jiankui told the Associated Press that he felt a strong responsibility to make an example. He said that society would decide whether to permit the practice to go forward. He disappeared shortly after he announced his research at a conference in Hong Kong 13 months ago. It appears that government officials detained him, first in the city of Shenzhen near the border with Hong Kong.
In addition to a prison sentence, the court ordered He Jiankui to pay about $430,000. The court ordered shorter sentences for Zhang Renli and Qin Jinzhou for having helped He with his work. They worked at two unnamed medical centers.
Xinhua reported the court's decision as saying: "The three accused did not have the proper certification to practice medicine, and in seeking fame and wealth, deliberately violated national regulations in scientific research and medical treatment."
The decision also said that the researchers "have crossed the bottom line of ethics in scientific research and medical ethics."
It was not clear if the three-year prison term includes any of the time He has already spent in Chinese detention.
One Chinese scientist said the sentence should have been greater to urge others not to follow in He's work. Kehkooi Kee is a Tsinghua University researcher who does gene-editing research on stem cells. Kehkooi Kee said He Jiankui should be held responsible for anything that happens to the babies or their families as a result of the experiment.
William Hurlbut is a Stanford University bioethicist whose advice He sought for more than a year before his experiment. Hurlbut said he felt sorry for the scientist, his wife and two young daughters.
"I warned him things could end this way, but it was just too late," Hurlbut wrote in an email to the Associated Press.
He added, "Sad story — everyone lost in this...but the one gain is that the world is awakened to the seriousness of our advancing genetic technologies."
I'm Jonathan Evans.
1.prison term 刑期
A federal judge told the actor to surrender to authorities and start serving a 3-year prison term.
2.stem cells 干细胞
The stem cells of the irradiated mice stopped copying themselves.
3.international debate 国际辩论
A major international debate has broken out on the success of China's economic stimulus package.
4.as a result of 结果
Workers approaching retirement should be saving more, not less, as a result of low rates.
5.Hurlbut said he felt sorry for the scientist, his wife and two young daughters.
felt sorry for 为...感到可惜
I felt sorry for him and his colleagues — it must have been so frustrating for them.
She felt sorry for the man but couldn't ignore the humour of the situation.
6.It was not clear if the three-year prison term includes any of the time He has already spent in Chinese detention.
It was not clear ...尚不清楚
It was not clear what the expected benefits and outcomes were.
Still it was not clear what manner of people they were.
何建奎（He Jiankui）被判非法行医和违反科研法罪 。中国官方媒体新华社周一宣布了该法院的判决 。
2018年11月，何建奎在深圳南方科技大学担任副教授 。他向全世界宣布，他使用了基因编辑技术CRISPR-Cas9改变了双胞胎女婴的基因 。他声称，已经保护她们免受艾滋病病毒的感染 。
这一声明引发了一场关于基因编辑伦理的国际辩论 。这些女婴的身份没有公布，目前尚不清楚该实验是否成功 。
CRISPR技术已经在其他领域进行了治疗成人疾病的测试 。但科学界的许多人认为他的工作在医学上是不必要的，在违反道德伦理的 。这是因为基因编辑可以遗传给后代 。美国禁止编辑胚胎，除非用于实验室研究 。
2018年，贺建奎在接受美联社采访时表示，他对向业界做出榜样有着强烈的责任感 。他表示，社会将决定是否允许这一技术继续发展 。13个月前，他在香港的一次会议上宣布了自己的研究成果，不久后音信全无 。似乎是政府官员在邻近香港的深圳将其拘留 。
法院除了判处何建奎刑期外，还判其交纳约43万美元的罚款 。法院以张仁礼（Zhang Renli）和覃金洲（Qin Jinzhou）协助其工作为由，判处二人较短时间的刑期 。他们在两家不知名的医疗中心工作 。
一位中国科学家指出，判决可以再重一些，以警示其他人不要步后尘 。Kehkooi Kee是清华大学的研究员，他从事干细胞的基因编辑研究 。Kehkooi Kee表示，（基因编辑）婴儿和及其家属在实验中出现的任何差池应由何建奎负责 。
威廉·赫尔特(William Hurlbut)是斯坦福大学的生物伦理学家，贺建奎曾在实验开始前向其寻求了一年多的建议 。赫尔特表示，他为这位科学家、他的妻子和两个年幼的女儿感到难过 。
“我警告过他，事情可能会以这种方式结束，但为时已晚，”赫尔伯特在给美联社(Associated Press)的一封电子邮件中写道 。