Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-56f9d74cfd-h4v4t Total loading time: 0.323 Render date: 2022-06-26T21:03:32.387Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true }

16 - He was Busy, Busy. Always doing Research

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 December 2021

Eben Kirksey
Affiliation:
Deakin University, Victoria
Get access

Summary

Victor Frankenstein was an aristocrat who completed his research in secret, squirreled away in an attic laboratory. When his creature sprang to life, Victor fled—refusing responsibility, unwilling to acknowledge his creation. In June 2019 I visited the key places where Dr. He's research was planned and executed. He was not working alone. Powerful people supported the experiment. Instead of a character who resembled Victor Frankenstein—a mad scientist who furtively completed his research—I found a charming entrepreneur. Just months before my visit, Dr. He had been at the height of his power as he leveraged support from government officials, financial magnates, plus dozens of employees at his start-up company and a team of university laboratory staff. He had been at the cutting edge of China's innovation economy, moving between the worlds of venture capitalism and science.

My ears popped as I rode up an elevator inside Shenzhen's tallest skyscraper, among scores of other glass and steel buildings reaching for the heavens. I was in a new center of power within Asia's economic sector: the Ping An Finance Center. The supertall skyscraper was named after its primary tenant: one of the world's most valuable insurance brands. Time and space collapsed as I gazed below. Shenzhen's twenty-first-century vision of green urban planning—with parklands and forested hills spreading throughout the landscape—was juxtaposed with agrarian landscapes on the outskirts of the megacity. I was inside the fourth-tallest building in the world. Ryan Ferrell, my source inside Dr. He's laboratory, was leading me around Shenzhen, offering crumbs of reliable information on our encrypted chat. Snapping a picture of the ultramodern cityscape, I sent it to Ryan on Signal, letting him know I had arrived.

I was here to meet a friend and confidant of Dr. He. We sat down in a conference room that held a long table, a webcam, and a flat-screen television and exchanged pleasantries. When I’d reached out to set up the interview, I simply said that a friend of a friend suggested we chat. The moment I mentioned Jiankui He's name, the tone of the conversation changed. This young tycoon—at the center of a nexus of financial power—suddenly looked scared and vulnerable. He did not want his name associated with the controversy. It seemed like our encounter was about to come to a hasty conclusion.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Mutant Project
Inside the Global Race to Genetically Modify Humans
, pp. 173 - 181
Publisher: Bristol University Press
Print publication year: 2021

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×