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Out At His Firm

He Jiankui, the researcher who announced last November that he had edited the genomes of twin girls as embryos, is no longer affiliated with Direct Genomics Biotechnology, a company he founded, according to Nikkei Asian Review.

He founded Direct Genomics in 2012 with support from the government in Shenzhen, China, to develop and commercialize a single-molecule DNA sequencing approach that he had been working on while a postdoc in Steve Quake's lab at Stanford University, it says. Direct Genomics, Nikkei Asian Review notes, is the most prominent of the eight or so firms with which He has been associated.

It adds that He gave up his one-third stake in the firm, which had made him the top shareholder, as well as his role as chairman and director last month. Co-founder, Yan Qin, is now the top shareholder and chairman of the company, according to Nikkei Asian Review.

Eben Kirksey, a professor at Deakin University in Australia, tells it that by distancing himself from the firm, He hopes to salvage its reputation. But Kirksey, who is writing a book on gene editing, adds that "[e]ven under new leadership, Direct Genomics will still be trying to develop the same unproven DNA sequencing technology."