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He Jiankui speaks during the International Summit on Human Genome Editing in Hong Kong on Nov. 28, 2018.

The condemnation of the Chinese scientist who created the world’s first genome-edited babies last year was far from universal: A fertility clinic in Dubai emailed He Jiankui on December 5 — just a week after he announced the births — asking if he could teach its clinicians “CRISPR gene editing for Embryology Lab Application.”

Although the English is somewhat tortured, the meaning was clear, Dr. William Hurlbut of Stanford University, who has advised He on the bioethics of his work for several years, told STAT: The fertility center was interested in offering CRISPR embryo editing to its patients. Its opening line is, “Congratulations on your recent achievement of the first gene editing baby delivered by your application!”

Hurlbut planned to reveal the email at a panel of the World Science Festival in New York City on Tuesday evening, but shared it with STAT before the event. Hurlbut said He received “other inquiries” making a similar request. When He asked Hurlbut for advice on how to respond, Hurlbut said, “I told him not to reply.”

Hurlbut decided to publicize the inquiries... see more