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Microscopic image of sperm is injected directly into an egg

From the thirteenth floor of a glass tower at the Oregon Health & Science University, you get a panoramic view of downtown Portland and the majestic mountains in the distance. But it's what's happening inside the building that's brought me here.

"Should we go do this thing?" lab manager Amy Koski asks.

She's just gotten a call from the fertility clinic three floors down. A woman undergoing in vitro fertilization has had her eggs extracted. One of the eggs is too immature to be used to try to create a baby, so she's donating it to research.

Koski grabs a small metal box and rushes to the elevator. It's her portable incubator.

"You want to keep the eggs very happy and warm," she says. "When you're jostling them and moving them, they get a little unhappy."

Human eggs are the key starting point for the groundbreaking experiments underway in this lab. It's run by Shoukhrat Mitalipov, a biologist who's been on the cutting edge of embryonic genetic research for decades.

Mitalipov and his international team electrified the world this...