Tag Archives: Scientist

Popular scientist Tyson rejects misconduct allegations

Popular scientist Tyson rejects misconduct allegationsWell-known author and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson on Sunday denied allegations by three women of sexual misconduct spanning several decades. Tyson, 60, who has built a successful career on television and in his books explaining and popularizing science, had remained largely silent as three different women lodged complaints dating as far back as 1984. In the first case, a woman alleged that Tyson drugged and raped her when both were graduate students at the University of Texas in 1984.



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Investigation launched into 'monstrous' claims scientist has genetically edited humans

Investigation launched into 'monstrous' claims scientist has genetically edited humansA Chinese university has launched an investigation into claims that one of its scientists genetically edited human babies, an experiment branded ‘monstrous’ by British academics who called for an immediate global ban. In a YouTube video posted on Monday He Jiankui of the Southern University of Science and Technology, in Shenzhen, said he had altered embryos for seven couples during fertility treatment, which had led to the birth of twins earlier this month. He said his goal was to give the babies a natural ability to resist HIV. But the university said that He had been on unpaid leave since February and warned the research – which has not been verified –  was a ‘serious violation of academic ethics and norms.’ A joint statement from a group of 100 scientists in China criticised the project saying it was ‘a great blow’ to the country’s reputation, while researchers in Britain strongly condemned the announcement and one of the inventors of the gene editing technology called for an immediate worldwide ban. Professor Julian Savulescu, an expert in medical ethics from Oxford University, said that in most other countries he would be facing jail. “If true, this experiment is monstrous,” he said. “These healthy babies are being used as genetic guinea pigs. This is genetic Russian Roulette. “It exposes healthy normal children to risks of gene editing for no real necessary benefit and contravenes decades on ethical consensus and guidelines on the protection of human participants in research. In many other places in the world, this would be illegal punishable by imprisonment.” How Crispr works Dr Sarah Chan of the University of Edinburgh, also described the gene editing as ‘irresponsible, unethical and designed to provoke maximum shock value.’ “Playing with children's health and families' hopes in order to use them as a means for a cheap publicity stunt is nothing short of despicable.” In five videos posted on Monday, He said he had used the gene-editing technology known as Crispr to rewrite the DNA of twin girls and claimed the experiment had "worked safely as intended" saying the girls were "as healthy as any other babies.’ In the videos, the scientist defended his work, saying in one: "I understand my work will be controversial, but I believe families need this technology. And I’m willing to take the criticism for them." Despite providing no evidence or documentation to back up the claims, He said he planned to share data about the trial at a scientific forum this week in Hong Kong and promised his results would be submitted for peer review and published.   However Feng Zhang, one of the inventors of Crispr, called for a global moratorium saying he was ‘deeply concerned’ by the lack of transparency. The issue of genetic editing is deeply controversial. Scientists in Britain and the US have experimented with genetic editing in human embryos but it is currently illegal to implant them. Last September scientists at Sun Yat-sen University used an adapted version of gene-editing to correct a disease-causing mutation in human embryos but they were destroyed after just a few weeks of fertilisation. Dr David King, Director of Human Genetics Alert, said: “If these claims are true, the world has changed – it’s a day that I and many others have dreaded. “But it underscores the need for an immediate global ban on the cloning and genetic engineering of human beings.”



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Chinese scientist claims to have created 'world's first genetically edited babies'

Chinese scientist claims to have created 'world's first genetically edited babies'A Chinese researcher claims he helped make the world's first genetically edited babies – twin girls whose DNA he said he altered with a powerful new tool capable of rewriting the very blueprint of life. If true, it would be a profound leap of science and ethics. A US scientist said he took part in the work in China, but this kind of gene editing is banned in the United States because the DNA changes can pass to future generations and it risks harming other genes. Many mainstream scientists think it's too unsafe to try, and some denounced the Chinese report as human experimentation. The researcher, He Jiankui of Shenzhen, said he altered embryos for seven couples during fertility treatments, with one pregnancy resulting thus far. He said his goal was not to cure or prevent an inherited disease, but to try to bestow a trait that few people naturally have – an ability to resist possible future infection with HIV, the Aids virus. He said the parents involved declined to be identified or interviewed, and he would not say where they live or where the work was done. There is no independent confirmation of He's claim, and it has not been published in a journal, where it would be vetted by other experts. He revealed it on Monday in Hong Kong to one of the organisers of an international conference on gene editing that is set to begin on Tuesday, and earlier in interviews with The Associated Press. "I feel a strong responsibility that it's not just to make a first, but also make it an example," He said. "Society will decide what to do next" in terms of allowing or forbidding such science. How Crispr works Some scientists were astounded to hear of the claim and strongly condemned it. It's "unconscionable … an experiment on human beings that is not morally or ethically defensible," said Dr. Kiran Musunuru, a University of Pennsylvania gene editing expert and editor of a genetics journal. "This is far too premature," said Dr. Eric Topol, who heads the Scripps Research Translational Institute in California. "We're dealing with the operating instructions of a human being. It's a big deal." However, one famed geneticist, Harvard University's George Church, defended attempting gene editing for HIV, which he called "a major and growing public health threat." "I think this is justifiable," Church said of that goal. In recent years scientists have discovered a relatively easy way to edit genes, the strands of DNA that govern the body. The tool, called CRISPR-cas9, makes it possible to operate on DNA to supply a needed gene or disable one that's causing problems. It's only recently been tried in adults to treat deadly diseases, and the changes are confined to that person. Editing sperm, eggs or embryos is different – the changes can be inherited. In the US, it's not allowed except for lab research. China outlaws human cloning but not specifically gene editing. He Jiankui, who goes by "JK," studied at Rice and Stanford universities in the US before returning to his homeland to open a lab at Southern University of Science and Technology of China in Shenzhen, where he also has two genetics companies. Targeted genome editing | What does it all mean? The US scientist who worked with him on this project after He returned to China was physics and bioengineering professor Michael Deem, who was his adviser at Rice in Houston. Deem also holds what he called "a small stake" in – and is on the scientific advisory boards of – He's two companies. The Chinese researcher said he practised editing mice, monkey and human embryos in the lab for several years and has applied for patents on his methods. He said he chose to try embryo gene editing for HIV because these infections are a big problem in China. He sought to disable a gene called CCR5 that forms a protein doorway that allows HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, to enter a cell. All of the men in the project had HIV and all of the women did not, but the gene editing was not aimed at preventing the small risk of transmission, He said. The fathers had their infections deeply suppressed by standard HIV medicines and there are simple ways to keep them from infecting offspring that do not involve altering genes. Instead, the appeal was to offer couples affected by HIV a chance to have a child that might be protected from a similar fate. He recruited couples through a Beijing-based Aids  advocacy group called Baihualin. Its leader, known by the pseudonym "Bai Hua," said it's not uncommon for people with HIV to lose jobs or have trouble getting medical care if their infections are revealed. He describes the work The gene editing occurred during IVF, or lab dish fertilization. First, sperm was "washed" to separate it from semen, the fluid where HIV can lurk. A single sperm was placed into a single egg to create an embryo. Then the gene editing tool was added. When the embryos were 3 to 5 days old, a few cells were removed and checked for editing. Couples could choose whether to use edited or unedited embryos for pregnancy attempts. In all, 16 of 22 embryos were edited, and 11 embryos were used in six implant attempts before the twin pregnancy was achieved, He said. Tests suggest that one twin had both copies of the intended gene altered and the other twin had just one altered, with no evidence of harm to other genes, He said. People with one copy of the gene can still get HIV, although some very limited research suggests their health might decline more slowly once they do. Several scientists reviewed materials that He provided to the AP and said tests so far are insufficient to say the editing worked or to rule out harm. They also noted evidence that the editing was incomplete and that at least one twin appears to be a patchwork of cells with various changes. "It's almost like not editing at all" if only some of certain cells were altered, because HIV infection can still occur, Church said. Church and Musunuru questioned the decision to allow one of the embryos to be used in a pregnancy attempt, because the Chinese researchers said they knew in advance that both copies of the intended gene had not been altered. "In that child, there really was almost nothing to be gained in terms of protection against HIV and yet you're exposing that child to all the unknown safety risks," Musunuru said. The use of that embryo suggests that the researchers' "main emphasis was on testing editing rather than avoiding this disease," Church said. Even if editing worked perfectly, people without normal CCR5 genes face higher risks of getting certain other viruses, such as West Nile, and of dying from the flu. Since there are many ways to prevent HIV infection and it's very treatable if it occurs, those other medical risks are a concern, Musunuru said. There also are questions about the way He said he proceeded. He gave official notice of his work long after he said he started it – on November 8, on a Chinese registry of clinical trials. It's unclear whether participants fully understood the purpose and potential risks and benefits. For example, consent forms called the project an "AIDS vaccine development" programme. The Rice scientist, Deem, said he was present in China when potential participants gave their consent and that he "absolutely" thinks they were able to understand the risks. Deem said he worked with He on vaccine research at Rice and considers the gene editing similar to a vaccine. "That might be a layman's way of describing it," he said. Both men are physics experts with no experience running human clinical trials. The Chinese scientist, He, said he personally made the goals clear and told participants that embryo gene editing has never been tried before and carries risks. He said he also would provide insurance coverage for any children conceived through the project and plans medical followup until the children are 18 and longer if they agree once they're adults. Further pregnancy attempts are on hold until the safety of this one is analysed and experts in the field weigh in, but participants were not told in advance that they might not have a chance to try what they signed up for once a "first" was achieved, He acknowledged. Free fertility treatment was part of the deal they were offered. He sought and received approval for his project from Shenzhen Harmonicare Women's and Children's Hospital, which is not one of the four hospitals that He said provided embryos for his research or the pregnancy attempts. Some staff at some of the other hospitals were kept in the dark about the nature of the research, which He and Deem said was done to keep some participants' HIV infection from being disclosed. "We think this is ethical," said Lin Zhitong, a Harmonicare administrator who heads the ethics panel. Any medical staff who handled samples that might contain HIV were aware, He said. An embryologist in He's lab, Qin Jinzhou, confirmed to the AP that he did sperm washing and injected the gene editing tool in some of the pregnancy attempts. The study participants are not ethicists, He said, but "are as much authorities on what is correct and what is wrong because it's their life on the line." "I believe this is going to help the families and their children," He said. If it causes unwanted side effects or harm, "I would feel the same pain as they do and it's going to be my own responsibility."



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Israel minister welcomes Syria scientist killing

Israel minister welcomes Syria scientist killingIsraeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz on Tuesday welcomed the killing of a leading Syrian weapons scientist but declined to comment on reports his government was behind the fatal bombing. General Aziz Asbar, head of a Syrian government weapons research centre, was killed along with his driver when the bomb hit his car on Saturday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Asbar headed the Maysaf research centre in Hama, which was hit by Israeli air strikes last month and in September last year, the Observatory said.



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Family speak out after scientist dad shot dead on California camping trip with daughters, 2 and 4

Family speak out after scientist dad shot dead on California camping trip with daughters, 2 and 4The family of a man who was shot dead on a camping trip in California with his two young daughters have spoken out about his tragic death. Tristan Beaudette, 35, died after suffering a gunshot wound to his upper torso at a campsite in Malibu Creek State Park in Calabasas on Friday morning. Mr Beaudette’s family have released a statement saying they are “heartbroken” about his death and their grief is “indescribable”.



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'This is taking an awfully long time!', says scientist before assisted suicide

'This is taking an awfully long time!', says scientist before assisted suicideBy Marina Depetris BASEL (Reuters) – A 104-year-old Australian scientist killed himself in Switzerland on Thursday by lethal injection in an assisted suicide he hoped would trigger more lenient euthanasia laws in his home country. British-born David Goodall, who was not terminally ill, personally triggered a lethal dose of a barbiturate and died at 1030 GMT in a clinic near Basel, the assisted suicide group Exit International said. Goodall, a member of the Order of Australia for work as a botanist that included publications on arid shrublands, said he had unsuccessfully tried to kill himself in Australia after his faculties including his hearing deteriorated.



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104-year-old Australian scientist dies after flying to Switzerland to end his life

104-year-old Australian scientist dies after flying to Switzerland to end his lifeAustralia's oldest scientist has died after flying to Switzerland to end his life by assisted suicide. Despite not having a terminal illness, David Goodall, who was 104, believed his quality of life had deteriorated and he secured a fast-track appointment with an assisted dying agency in Basel, reigniting the end-of-life debate.  An assisted suicide group confirmed this afternoon the scientist had passed away and doctors told MailOnline his last words were: "This is taking an awful long time." Prof Goodall's family were at his bedside when he flicked a switch to send the lethal injection coursing round his body.  Beethoven's Ode to Joy played as his relatives wept and the world-renowned ecologist closed his eyes and died within two minutes.   Prof Goodall with Carol O'Neill of Exit International, which advocates for voluntary euthanasia Credit: Exit International/GoFundMe The 104-year-old was meant to turn a wheel to release the Nembutal, but when he couldn't do it, doctors replaced it with a switch.  This meant he had to be asked mandatory questions for a second time, including his name, his date of birth, why he was at the clinic and what he understood would happen to him, to which he replied: "'I hope my heart stops," according to MailOnline.  Talking to ABC on his 104th birthday in April, the ecologist said: "I greatly regret having reached that age. "I'm not happy. I want to die. It's not sad particularly. What is sad is if one is prevented. "My feeling is that an old person like myself should have full citizenship rights including the right of assisted suicide." Prof Goodall made headlines in 2016 when his university tried to force him from his role on the grounds that, at the age of 102, he was no longer fit to be on campus. Assisted suicide is illegal in most countries around the world and was banned in Australia until the state of Victoria became the first to legalise the practice last year. But that legislation, which takes effect from June 2019, only applies to terminally ill patients of sound mind and a life expectancy of less than six months. At the age of 104, David Goodall said he was ready to die despite not having a terminal illness Credit: Exit International/AFP Other states in Australia have debated euthanasia in the past, but the proposals have always been defeated, mostly recently in New South Wales state last year. Exit International, which helped Mr Goodall make the trip, said a the beginning of the month it was unjust that one of Australia's "oldest and most prominent citizens should be forced to travel to the other side of the world to die with dignity". Assisted Dying  "A peaceful, dignified death is the entitlement of all who want it. And a person should not be forced to leave home to achieve it," it said on its website. The group then launched a GoFundMe campaign to get plane tickets for Goodall and his helper upgraded to business class from economy. Prof Goodall, an honorary research associate at Perth's Edith Cowan University, fought attempts to banish him from the campus two years ago. After an uproar and support from scientists globally, the decision was reversed. He produced dozens of research papers and until recently continued to review and edit for different ecology journals.



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Australian scientist, 104, plans to kill himself with 'Swiss option'

Australian scientist, 104, plans to kill himself with 'Swiss option'(This May 9 story was refiled to eliminate superfluous word from first quote) ZURICH (Reuters) – A 104-year-old Australian scientist traveled to Switzerland to end his life, telling a news conference on Wednesday the nation’s liberal assisted suicide laws let him commit suicide legally, in contrast to his home where it remains forbidden. Ecologist David Goodall, who is not terminally ill, said he was ready for the end. “One should be free to choose death, when death is at an appropriate time,” said Goodall, a member of the Order of Australia who wore a pullover emblazoned with the words “Aging Disgracefully.” “My abilities have been in decline over the past year or two, my eyesight over the past six years.



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British-Iranian scientist arrested for role in 'infiltration network': Iran media

British-Iranian scientist arrested for role in 'infiltration network': Iran mediaIranian media confirmed on Thursday that Abbas Edalat, a British-Iranian scientist and peace campaigner, has been arrested for his alleged role in an “infiltration network”. “Recently, members of an infiltration network affiliated to Britain have been arrested,” an unnamed source told the Fars news agency, which is considered close to the powerful Revolutionary Guards. The report named Edalat, a professor of computer science and mathematics at Imperial College in London.



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Body Of CDC Scientist Missing Since February Found In Georgia River

Body Of CDC Scientist Missing Since February Found In Georgia RiverA Centers for Disease Control and Prevention scientist who mysteriously



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