T

he next revolution in medicine just might come from a new lab technique that makes neurons sensitive to light. The technique, called optogenetics, is one of the biggest breakthroughs in neuroscience in decades. It has the potential to cure blindness, treat Parkinson’s disease, and relieve chronic pain. Moreover, it’s become widely used to probe the workings of animals’ brains in the lab, leading to breakthroughs in scientists’ understanding of things like sleep, addiction, and sensation.

So it’s not surprising that the two Americans hailed as inventors of optogenetics are rock stars in the science world. Karl Deisseroth at Stanford University and Ed Boyden at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have collected tens of millions in grants and won millions in prize money in recent years. They’ve stocked their labs with the best equipment and the brightest minds. They’ve been lauded in the media and celebrated at conferences around the world. They’re considered all but certain to win a Nobel Prize.

There’s only one problem with this story:

It just may be that Zhuo-Hua Pan invented optogenetics first.

Section break

Even many neuroscientists have never heard of Pan.

Pan, 60, is a vision scientist at Wayne State University in Detroit who began his research career in his home country of China. He moved to the United States in the 1980s to pursue his PhD and never left. He wears wire-rimmed glasses over a broad nose framed by smile-lines in his cheeks. His colleagues describe him as a pure scientist: modest, dedicated, careful.

Pan was driven by a desire to cure blindness. In the early 2000s, he imagined that putting a light-sensitive protein into the eye could restore vision in the blind — compensating for the death of rods and cones by making other cells light-sensitive.

That was the germ of the idea of optogenetics — taking a protein that converts light into electrical activity and putting it into neurons. That way, scientists could shine light and stimulate the neurons remotely, allowing them to manipulate brain circuits. Others had experimented with trying to make neurons light-sensitive before, but those strategies hadn’t caught on because they lacked the right light-sensitive protein.

That all changed with the first molecular description of channelrhodopsin, published in 2003.

Channelrhodopsin, a protein made by green algae, responds to light by pumping ions into cells, which helps the algae search out sunlight.

That “was one of the most exciting things in my life,” Pan said. “I thought, wow! This is the molecule we are looking for. This is the light sensor we are looking for.”

By February 2004, he was trying channelrhodopsin out in ganglion cells — the neurons in our eyes that connect directly to the brain — that he had cultured in a dish. They became electrically active in response to light. Over the moon with excitement, Pan applied for a grant from the National Institutes of Health. The NIH awarded him $300,000, with the comment that his research was “quite an unprecedented, highly innovative proposal, bordering on the unknown.”

Optigenetics
A side view of a blind mouse’s retina containing channelrhodopsin. The round structures at the bottom are the cell bodies of the neurons. Zhuo-Hua Pan
Optigenetics
A close-up of the mouse retina showing neurons with channelrhodopsin and green fluorescent protein. Zhuo-Hua Pan

Pan didn’t know it at the time but he was racing against research groups across the United States and around the world to put channelrhodopsin into neurons.

Deisseroth and Boyden were working at Stanford, where Deisseroth was finishing a postdoc and Boyden was finishing graduate school. At least two other groups were in the game as well, led by Stefan Herlitze and Lynn Landmesser, who were at Case Western Reserve University at the time, and Hiromu Yawo at Tohoku University in Japan.

And they were by no means the only scientists experimenting with ways to control neurons with light. By 2004, Gero Miesenbock and Richard Kramer had already published articles using other, more complicated molecules for that purpose. But channelrhodopsin was the tool that was about to revolutionize the field.

The Stanford group had been toying with the idea of controlling neurons with light for quite some time. They had also noticed the paper about the discovery of channelrhodopsin. Deisseroth got in touch with the paper’s author, Georg Nagel, in March 2004 and asked if Nagel would collaborate, sharing the channelrhodopsin DNA so Boyden could try it out in neurons. In August 2004, Boyden shined light on a brain neuron in a dish and recorded electrical activity from the channelrhodopsin.

Pan had done the same thing with retina neurons six months earlier. But then he got scooped.

‘We didn’t feel very lucky’

Boyden, who is now a professor at MIT, was surprised when told by STAT that Pan ran the experiment first.

“Wow. Interesting. I didn’t know that,” Boyden said.

“It’s funny to think about how science regards when something is proven,” he added, noting that scientists build on each others’ work, sometimes working together while at other times working in parallel, scrambling onto one another’s shoulders. “There’s both intentional and unintentional teamwork,” he said.

The Stanford press office said Deisseroth was unavailable. In response to questions provided by STAT, spokesman Bruce Goldman wrote that Pan’s study was “a far cry from the use of optogenetics … to open up a new world of precision neuroscience. That’s the potential revealed in Dr. Deisseroth’s widely cited 2005 publication.”

Pan said he might have mentioned the timing of his experiment to Boyden once several years ago, but, Pan said, “I didn’t want to take too much time to talk about this because people feel uncomfortable.”

That sentiment is in keeping with Pan’s wider approach — diligent, reserved, outside the limelight. Wayne State is a small university not known for its scientific research. Pan had gone to a state school for his PhD, then done mostly obscure research for decades. These things may have contributed to what happened next, when he tried to get his invention out into the world: It wasn’t seen as the big advance it was.

Dr. Zhuo Hua Pan lab
A model of a human eye in Pan’s lab. Sean Proctor for STAT

Pan spent the summer of 2004 figuring out how to get the channelrhodopsin protein into a living eye. He settled on the idea of using a virus, which could infect cells in the eye and sneak the channelrhodopsin DNA inside. His colleague, Alexander Dizhoor, a professor at Salus University, engineered the channelrhodopsin DNA to add the gene for a protein that fluoresced green under blue light, so they could track where the channelrhodopsin ended up.

In July 2004, Pan dosed his first rat with the virus. About five weeks later, he looked at the retinas to see if it had worked. What he saw was a sea of green — thousands of ganglion cells had the green protein coupled to channelrhodopsin in their membranes. And when he stuck an electrode in one of those cells and turned on a lamp, the cell responded with a flurry of electrical activity. The channelrhodopsin was working. It was just a first step, but it was a revolutionary step — indicating that Pan’s method may just be able to restore sight to the blind.

“Everything turned out beautifully,” Pan said.

So Pan and Dizhoor wrote a paper about their work and submitted it to Nature on November 25, 2004, according to the submission letter Pan shared with STAT. The editors at Nature suggested they send it on to a more specialized journal called Nature Neuroscience, which rejected it. Early the next year, Pan sent the paper to the Journal of Neuroscience, where it was reviewed but then again rejected.

Disheartened, Pan set to work revising his paper, and in May 2005 traveled to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. for the Association for Research in Vision and Opthamology conference, where he described his work using channelrhodopsin in neurons. That single lecture, lasting just 15 minutes, would come to be his clearest stake along the timeline of invention.

It was what came next that would make that stake matter. A few months later, in August of 2005, Nature Neuroscience published a paper about using channelrhodopsin to make neurons sensitive to light. The paper was by Edward Boyden and Karl Deisseroth.

Pan heard the news from a colleague who emailed him the paper. “I felt terrible. I felt terrible,” Pan said, pausing. “We didn’t feel very lucky.”

Met with a shrug

Deisseroth and Boyden’s paper was slightly different than Pan’s. They simply demonstrated that they could use channelrhodopsin to control neurons’ activity in a dish; Pan had waited to publish until he could make it work in a live animal. And Deisseroth and Boyden had shown incredibly precise time control, by turning the light on for just a millisecond. But their technical feat was essentially the same: They had used channelrhodopsin to successfully make neurons in a dish respond to illumination.

Ed Boyden
Ed Boyden of the MIT Media Lab. Keith Bedford/The Boston Globe

The Stanford paper took a little while to take off, but take off it did. The work jump-started both Deisseroth’s and Boyden’s careers, landing them big money grants and talented students for their labs — Deisseroth at Stanford and Boyden at MIT. The New York Times started writing about Deisseroth’s breakthroughs with optogenetics in 2007, and the citations of the research paper took off exponentially.

By the time Pan finally managed to publish his paper, in Neuron in April 2006, it was mostly met with a shrug. Richard Kramer, a neuroscientist at UC Berkeley who was also studying vision, remembers, “It wasn’t that creative, it was just ‘Oh look, you can put channelrhodopsin in neurons from the brain, you can also put it in neurons from the retina.’ Was it impressive? No.”

Those handful of months seem to have made all the difference.

Dr. Zhuo Hua Pan lab
Culture dishes growing bacteria and dissection tools used in Pan’s lab. Sean Proctor for STAT

Dr. Zhuo Hua Pan lab

Why didn’t Pan’s paper get published first? He may never know the answer. After Boyden’s paper came out, Pan wrote to the editor at Nature Neuroscience asking how they could have rejected his paper but published Boyden’s.

In her response, the editor replied that while the papers were similar, Boyden et al. presented theirs as a new technology rather than as a scientific finding. Pan’s paper, it seemed, was too narrow, only focusing on using channelrhodopsin to restore vision, while Boyden’s paper took the broad view of thinking of channelrhodopsin as a tool for neuroscience in general.

The reviews that other researchers submitted to the Journal of Neuroscience shed some more light on what people thought of Pan’s paper. One reviewer liked it and had some minor suggestions for improvement. The other, in a single long paragraph, said the research was “ambitious” and “very preliminary” and concluded that “there is too little here to entice most neuroscientists.”

Newsletters

Sign up to our Daily Recap newsletter

Please enter a valid email address.

In hindsight, Pan’s coauthor Dizhoor can’t help but laugh while reading that. Reviewers would ultimately greenlight an expanded version of Pan’s paper, in 2006, with minimal revisions.

But that hasn’t elevated Pan to the optogenetics pantheon. In terms of publication, he was quite late to the party, with three different groups publishing papers about channelrhodopsin before he did. He didn’t share in two big prizes that recently went to Deisseroth and Boyden, the Brain Prize in 2013 (1 million euros split between six inventors of optogenetics) and the Breakthrough Prize in 2015 ($3 million each to Boyden and Deisseroth).

Karl Deisseroth
Karl Deisseroth accepts the 2016 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences in Mountain View, Calif. Steve Jennings/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize

Since 2005, Deisseroth has been awarded over $18 million in NIH grants for his work on optogenetics, and Boyden has received more than $10 million. Both have other major projects that bring in additional funding to their labs each year. Boyden is a prolific speaker who’s given multiple TED talks; Deisseroth was the subject of an in-depth profile in the New Yorker in 2015.

Pan, on the other hand, has cumulatively received just over $3 million over the past 10 years and holds one NIH grant — the bare minimum to keep a research program going. Most of the accolades for his work have come from Wayne State University. According to his website, he’s been invited to give a couple of talks — most recently at a technology show in Russia.

Dr. Zhuo Hua Pan
Pan in his lab at Wayne State University, where he continues to work on channelrhodopsin. Sean Proctor for STAT

Rules of the invention game

The whole saga raises the question of what it means to invent something in science. It’s a question that has plagued scientists in recent years — including the ongoing CRISPR patent fight — as research becomes ever more global and the spoils of biotechnology and medical discoveries become ever more valuable.

The answer, it turns out, shifts depending on context.

Fellow academics often consider the first scientists to publish a paper on a technique the discoverers or inventors of that technique.

But that metric can be problematic, as Pan’s experience shows. In a recent essay in the journal eLife, Ronald Vale and Anthony Hyman, two biologists, laid out the problem. They point out that “the delay between the submission of a paper and its publication can range from a few weeks to more than two years,” adding that journals “slow down and create inequities in how knowledge is transferred from the scientist to the worldwide scientific community.”

And reviewers can be biased toward familiar names or prestigious institutions. Blinded review, in which the author’s name is redacted, has been suggested as a way to minimize that effect, but many scientists are skeptical that it would work, since research is often discussed ahead of time at conferences.

Vale and Hyman advocate, instead, for scientists to post drafts of their work on “preprint servers” such as bioRxiv before they submit it to journals. If such a server had been widely used by neuroscientists in 2004, Pan could have posted his rejected findings there, staking his claim.

But whether that would mean he would be on the short list for the Nobel Prize is unclear. Kramer thinks that even if Pan had published on bioRxiv, he’d be shut out because he wasn’t the first to publish a peer-reviewed paper on the technique. That’s what will matter if and when the inventors of optogenetics win the Nobel.

The legal system doesn’t play by quite the same rules. According to an American Bar Association representative specializing in patent law, to prove precedence for a patent in the early 2000s, most of the time you needed to show both “when someone had actually conceived of the invention — that’s sort of in your mind the lightbulb going off, ‘Aha! I have it!’ — and when the invention was reduced to practice — that means you’ve actually done it and you’ve proven that your idea can work.”

By those standards, a discovery happens at the time of its demonstration in the lab, even before it’s been posted on a preprint server.

Then there’s the court of public opinion. Scientists are increasingly public personalities, running Twitter accounts and appearing on late-night talk shows.

“The quality rising to the top is a little more influenced by non-scientific things than it used to be,” said Richard Masland, a professor at Harvard Medical School, who also holds patents on gene therapy for blindness.

Being at Wayne State University might have meant that Pan didn’t have the resources to get a high-profile paper published. There’s the actual costs of doing high quality of research, but in addition, senior researchers at top universities usually mentor junior professors, reading their work and helping them take it to the next level.

Pan agrees that fact may have put him at a disadvantage compared with scientists at prestigious institutions like MIT or Stanford. “Of course, I cannot prove that with evidence,” he said. And Pan’s modesty and non-native language abilities may have kept him from promoting himself as well as Boyden and Deisseroth did.

“He’s just not as public a speaker and presenter as other people in the field. And this is an important part of the whole game of being able to get out there and sell yourself,” Kramer, the UC Berkeley vision researcher, said.

That publicity can be self-reinforcing. Landmesser, the Case Western professor who worked on channelrhodopsin in the beginning, said, “I think there’s always a tendency [that] whoever gets there first gets more publicity, let’s put it that way.”

A university PR video can spawn a national news article, which spurs someone to think of your name in nominations for a nice cash prize, which leads to some TV appearances. The word “inventor” gets used at some point and before you know it you’re Google’s automatic answer to the question “Who invented optogenetics?”

Dr. Zhuo Hua Pan
A chalkboard and glassware drying rack in Pan’s lab. He has used channelrhodopsin to help blind mice see. Sean Proctor for STAT

Dr. Zhuo Huan Pan

Ultimately, both Pan and the team of Boyden and Deisseroth won patents for their discoveries.

Pan’s May 2005 lecture threatened to derail the Boyden-Deisseroth patent for a while — the US patent office rejected it multiple times because Pan’s abstract was published more than a year before they got around to filing.

Eventually, Deisseroth and Boyden signed a document stating that they had invented this method of using channelrhodopsin privately in the lab before Pan’s conference abstract was published. The relevant patent was issued in March 2016, almost 10 years after they filed.

Now, Deisseroth is a cofounder and scientific advisor at Circuit Therapeutics, a company developing a wide range of therapies based on optogenetics, presumably using Deisseroth’s patented inventions. (Circuit Therapeutics declined to comment on specifics of their intellectual property licenses.)

Pan won a patent as well, to use channelrhodopsin to restore vision in the eye. His patent was licensed by RetroSense, which won an award from the Angel Capital Association in 2015. Retrosense — whose CEO in passing told STAT about Pan’s role in the invention of optogenetics — began clinical trials this year to put the algae proteins in blind people using gene therapy. It’s the first application of optogenetics in humans and the first time a non-human gene is being used in a gene therapy trial.

Right now, there are blind people in Texas walking around with algae DNA and proteins in their eyes. And that was what Pan was in it for all along. “One thing I still feel glad about is that even right now our clinical study is still ahead of anyone,” Pan said.

But given that there are no gene therapies approved for clinical use in the United States, the road to successfully using optogenetics in humans will likely be a long one. Yang Dan, a professor of neuroscience at UC Berkeley who uses optogenetics to study sleep, isn’t betting on optogenetics cures being in the clinic any time soon. “I believe that these safety checks will take a long, long time,” she said.

As for the invention itself, some scientists say Pan may not have had the big, award-worthy vision that Deisseroth and Boyden had. Stefan Herlitze, one of the others who was scooped for the first publication about channelrhodopsin in neurons, said, “Of course I have to say, Deisseroth and Boyden, they really developed the field further.”

Boyden echoed this. “Karl and I were very interested in the general question of how to control cell types in the brain,” he said. “In recent years, we worked to push these molecules to their logical limits.”

So maybe it doesn’t matter who invented optogenetics, just who has stretched science’s boundaries the furthest.

Asked whether he deserves the recognition that Boyden and Deisseroth have enjoyed, Pan declined to answer. He later told STAT that Deisseroth “also did a very excellent job, no doubt. But he’s also very lucky because if our paper was ahead of him, the story would be different. We would have gotten more credit.”

That is about as much as Pan is willing to say about the way his cards fell. Today he’s still in Detroit. He’s been working on new versions of channelrhodopsin that could be used to cure blindness. “My lab is a very small lab,” Pan said, “We’re mainly interested in trying to restore vision.”

Leave a Comment

Please enter your name.
Please enter a comment.

  • This was a tremendous piece of journalism but I think that maybe you are trying to make something out of nothing. I came to learn about your research on this topic form the below article:

    http://www.nanalyze.com/2016/11/optogenetics-explained-simply-investors/

    It points out that there should be no surprise that better funded institutions have an advantage. Also, for whoever is trying to make this a racial issue, maybe you should find something better to do with your time… like maybe studying the sciences and making some contributions yourselves instead of whining about how unfair everything is.

  • Dear Ms. Anna Vlasits,

    With great interests, I read your fantastic paper and thank you very much. Just want to add that Dr. Zhuo Hua Pan came from an elite background as elite as Stanford and MIT. He was admitted to then #1 school in China in 1977: University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) at Hefei, school of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. I am not at all surprised to know that he did this invention — he is educated and is supposedly to make inventions like this by the very selective schools in China. It is just the general American don’t know and think that he graduated from a state school — China was very poor and it was a hell of a good opportunity to study in any school in USA. USTC has the most elite professor legion from China in the US top schools, such as Prof. Xiaowei Zhuang at Harvard, Prof. Xiaogang Wen at MIT…the list is very long. Recent headline news about Quantum Communication or Quantum Satellite is also from USTC led by its professor Jianwei Pan.

    Please kindly contact me for your follow on story/paper. I think we should make the Nobel committee know about the truth. I have just got in touch with Prof. Zhuo Hua Pan already. He is my alumnus from the same department, Dept. of Modern Physics, USTC. I attended USTC in 1979 when I was only 15, and it is considered normal.

    My highest regards,

    Liyan

    Dr. Liyan Zhang
    4435357487 (cell)
    liyan8zhang@gmail.com

  • This is in continuation of present commentator’s comment published earlier (SEPTEMBER 14,2016). That comment explicitly pointed only to the felt lack of clarity/un-ambiguity with respect to the principal contention of the article. . But notwithstanding this problematic aspect, a very important service, the above write-up rendered, though implicitly appreciated, (through reference to some group of facts presented in the article in the comment,) , was not explicitly done so due to inattention. .The ‘service’ being alluded to is presentation of indisputable facts of the unfortunate, if not reprehensible/harmful, action/inaction of many a Journal, supposedly in service of ideals of seeking truth in the arena of ‘science’, contributing to sick/sad situations around any claimed new ‘discovery’ . These facts (sought to be summed up in brief in above mentioned earlier comment) were presented (in the article/write-up) without any explicit comment.. But the very presentation amounted, whether meant to be or not, to unambiguous exposure of above mentioned unfortunate aspects related to process of publication of papers reaching the desks of the journals. To bring before the public eyes these dark sides of these journals, enjoying public esteem as well as wielding considerable power/influence in terms of ‘promoting’ individual research workers was an invaluable service, rendered by the article, towards the cause of honest ‘science’. One can only hope that this exposure may be of some help to the runners of these journals to go into some introspection, so as to change their doings in desirable direction.
    The article, without saying so, effectively draws attention to possible racial bias against non-white research workers in USA.. In the article, sad overall situation in the research arena, involving competition for fund, prize etc. comes out, though in somewhat scattered manner, eloquently.

    Also, a younger friend of the present commentator, professionally associated with research and teaching in the arena of neuro-science, tells the commentator that the article, using “ the approach of investigative science journalism has unveiled for the first time before us, ‘behind the screen’ untold story of discovery of Optogenetics and has thus rendered an invaluable service in the cause of further advancement in the field”

  • The article appears quite jumbled up. It fails, with required clarity /un-ambiguity, to substantiate its contention that Boyed & Deisseroth knowingly denied priority of Pan in discovery/invention in the related field,. Rather, it seems to convey the impression that it is the whimsical/mysterious refusal of the journals to publish Pan’s paper in time that led to this situation. So, it is the journals which must be held responsible for such a sad state of affairs. And the hint that it is the obscurity or otherwise of the scientific institutions of the paper writers , and not the content of the sent paper(s), which carry even slightest importance in deciding about the publication, speak of a mob mentality, not befitting any journal of science, taken with any degree of seriousness.
    In that case, both the parties independent of each other seem to have stumbled on the insights in the related field. If so, they both deserve same ‘credit’ for the insights and further action that follow. In such a situation as to who was the ‘first’ deserve nothing more than an additional footnote for record. Giving it more importance than that reflect a mind-set, natural for school boy sports and quite dishonorable for those, claiming to go deeper into the mystery of the unknown. Rather, such parallel journeys through mystery of nature in search of hidden truth reaching the same successful unknown destination earlier or later deserves to be looked upon as a fascinating and deeply human aspect of research in any field of quarry. And such simultaneous arrivals of many, unknown to one another, at the same destination, deserve to be treated as on equal plane In that case instead of market-pace smelling ugly rivalry there would be hand to hand co-operation in search of hidden truth behind the apparent . But unfortunately the very tradition of the supposedly noble arena of scientific research is besmirched by this so-called priority dispute, leading to ugly spectacle again and again even among those considered to be ‘genius’. For example, one may cite the well-known instances of ugly battle between Newton and Leibniz around discovery of Calculus. Or the same between Tesla and Marconi around discovery of radio signal across continents. But for such distasteful dishonorable tradition, the unfortunate situations sought to be presented in this write-up would not appear at all. One wonders why there is no move from scientific community across the planet to replace this market-place like tradition of one up the other with that of loving respectful tradition of mutual recognition with love and respect.
    As to the possible racial factor behind such scenario, as hinted by some of the commentators, If true, it is simply nauseating beyond belief in scientific arena even.

    • I’d like to retreat from the outrage I expressed above, not because the situation isn’t outrageous, but because it’s not anyone’s fault. Racism in science is largely unconscious.

      What papers are worth reading? Which are worth publishing? What topics are worth further investigation? We all have Inboxes stacked too high. If the language in this paper is a bit awkward, it’s harder to read, and so we put it aside so we can continue to move through the stack of unread correspondence.

      There may be a subconscious, self-perpetuating idea that Chinese or Indian or Russian science doesn’t rise to the high standards of The West. It may be just the ease of remembering the Western names.

      Since racism is structural in our institutions and operates beneath our conscious thought process, we can’t solve the problem by just deciding to be fair. We must make an affirmative decision to try a little harder to decipher that paper with the grammatical gaffs, perhaps even to volunteer editing servies, to choose the gems from outside the English-speaking world and help make them more accessible to the scientific community. I would argue that we owe this to the community for the privilege of being able to communicate in our native English in journals and at conferences.

  • Its interesting that Pan’s work was dismissed because it was ‘only’ trying to cure blindness whereas the Stanford work offered a general technique for studying neurons. Trying to cure blindness seems like a pretty major goal.

  • Racism in science is just as ugly as racism in the streets of Ferguson. The British-American establishment routinely dismisses science from China, Russia and the Arab world with an easy nonchalance. Pan could certainly have published in a Chinese language journal, but that would not have even counted as a publication in the eyes of STAT or the Nobel Committee.

    • Hardly racism. I assure you, “the big names” routinely squash work of their -male (adding this in to head off the sexism comment as well) – “lesser peers” from the white race as well.

  • Why is the discovery not considered shared? Oh – I get it – because one group stands to make a lot of money off that. Rather unscholarly, don’t you think?

    True enough, just blinding the papers for review does not do away with prejudices towards the Old Boy Network because usually researchers know what others are working on (if they are in the same circles). I’ll add something cynical – I have known numerous cases where the review kept getting sent to somebody high up in the subject, whose own theories would be set back by the one being reviewed, so they savaged the article under review. I could imagine a situation where someone in the same field was working on the SAME problem, and wanted the credit, and therefore savaged the article under review. Not saying that happened here – just that it’s a realistic scenario.

    Then there’s the New England Journal of Medicine “rules” about not letting information about a study escape into the press before it is published – or it doesn’t get published. That is nearly criminal when it comes to medical sciences.

    Looks like a lot of problems to clean up. Try to focus on what will push science forward – not what will make the most amount of money. At the moment, pre-publishing findings (with the understanding it’s not finalized yet) is probably the best answer.

  • Hopefully Pan hired a lawyer and has a smart agreement with RetroSense, the company that’s using his patent to commercialize the gene therapy.

    RetroSense importantly started a clinical trial first and if successful it could make Pan a lot of money. And he has the satisfaction of knowing his work is actually curing people of blindness and not just being talked about from a stage. Commercial success would be the best retribution.

  • HELLO,I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW THE NAME OF THE TECHNOLOGY USED TO SCAN A PERSONS BRAIN FROM A DISTANCE OF AT LEAST 3 QUARTERS OF A MILE AWAY,JUST AS THE [ FMRI ] CAN DO.

Sign up for our Morning Rounds newsletter

Your daily dose of news in health and medicine