He, who created two companies based on his studies, is scheduled to present his findings at the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing, and will certainly be the target of numerous questions from the leading gene-editing scientists in attendance.
"Two attractive little Chinese girls name Lulu and Nana came crying into the world as healthy as any other babies a few weeks ago", He (pronounced like "her", but with a guttural h and silent r) proclaimed in a video posted online. There was no independent confirmation of He's work and he did not provide written documentation of his research.
He's claims were immediately condemned by some scientists as unsafe and unethical. Similar experiments are also prohibited in the United Kingdom and many other countries.
According to the AP, a USA scientist had helped with the project but said that this sort of DNA editing is banned in the States due to risks that could be passed down for generations.
On Sunday, Jiankui He claimed to have successfully edited the genes of twin girls, releasing a recorded statement to YouTube about the breakthrough. Over 120 Chinese scientists also signed a letter condemning He's work, while simultaneously calling for new Chinese laws to prevent similar work. "Society will decide what to do next" with such science, the researcher continued.
Rice University has also opened an investigation into Michael Deem (a bioengineering professor at Rice and previous supervisor of He) and his possible role in the study.
It's "unconscionable.an experiment on human beings that is not morally or ethically defensible", said Dr Kiran Musunuru, a gene-editing expert from the University of Pennsylvania.
He Jiankui says he used seven volunteer couples in which the male partner suffered from an HIV infection. But the AP reports that he has since left Hong Kong, saying through a spokesperson, "I will remain in China, my home country, and cooperate fully with all inquiries about my work".
The state-run China Central Television reported that the government has instructed officials in Guangdong Province to investigate the matter. "We just don't know yet", Doudna says.
In this October 9, 2018 photo, a microplate containing embryos that have been injected with Cas9 protein and PCSK9 sgRNA is seen in a laboratory in Shenzhen in southern China's Guangdong province. But studies suggest that controlling CRISPR in human cells remains a challenge; in some cases CRISPR may cut unintended parts of the genome. People with only one copy of the CCR5 gene can still get HIV.
So far the tool has only been used on adults to treat deadly diseases, and the changes only affected that person.
One reason for the caution is that changes to an embryo would be inherited by future generations and could eventually affect the entire gene pool and that it is risky.
The CRISPR tool is a recently developed tool for adding necessary genes or disabling harmful ones to treat diseases in adults, though the US only allows it to be used in lab research.
Professor Hawking, who predicted that humans would discover ways to "modify intelligence and instincts" in this century, warned against such genetic modification, voicing the possibility that gene engineering could give rise to a new species of human that might lead to the destruction of the rest of humanity. What's more, the experiment could threaten the babies' health, experts have argued.
If it is true, the experiment is deeply controversial.