NEW YORK — When future historians look back on the 21st century, one of the most iconic photos may be of a smiling, dark-haired man in blue scrubs protectively holding a newborn — the world’s first commercially produced “three-parent” baby.
This is John Zhang, the Chinese-born, British-educated founder and medical director of a Manhattan fertility center that is blowing up the way humans reproduce.
In 2009, Zhang helped a 49-year-old patient become the world’s oldest known woman to carry her own child. In the not-too-distant future, he says, 60-year-old women will be able to do the same.
In 2015, Zhang stunned his scientific peers by transferring a genetically “abnormal” embryo to the womb of a woman who had run out of other options. Abnormal embryos — which appear to have the wrong number of chromosomes — are almost universally considered nonviable and discarded by other fertility doctors. The woman gave birth to a healthy baby girl, prompting clinics around the world to reevaluate their policies.
But it was the three-parent baby that really put Zhang on the map. Working with...