WASHINGTON — The apparent birth this month of the first genetically modified babies is “a lesson in the potential for human hubris to overtake us,” Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, told STAT Thursday, but he said there is little U.S. officials can do to influence how China sanctions the rogue scientist who claims to have led the ethically dubious scientific breakthrough.

Collins said he was glad to see that Chinese authorities on Thursday suspended the researcher’s work, which they deem illegal, and said they were launching an investigation. “I welcome their announcement that they will not be allowing other experiments of this sort at this time, and that there will be consequences for people who break this law,” he said in his first interview since the news of the births roiled the worldwide scientific community.

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  • “If I have a concern here, it’s that those who haven’t been tracking this closely might conclude that the whole field of gene editing is fraught with ethical challenges,” This is perhaps one of the most significant downsides to this whole situation. There is so much going on that is good and focused a long ways away from these germ-line and consent ethical issues. I hope the press and the uninformed masses and politicians don’t blindly shut down the other good work.

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