Chinese scientists inserted a human intelligence gene, MCPH1, into 11 rhesus macaque embryos. This study was led by Bing Su from the Kunming Institute of Zoology and published in March 2019 in the Chinese journal National Science Review. The monkeys with the human gene showed improved short-term memory and brain development similar to humans. However, there were no differences in brain size or other behaviours.

Some experts question the ethics of this research. Rebecca Walker, a bioethicist from the University of North Carolina, warns of potential slippery slopes towards giving animals human-like intelligence. James Sikela, a geneticist from the University of Colorado, also expressed concerns about the implications on cognition and society.

While Su and his team argue that the large evolutionary distance between humans and rhesus macaques alleviates ethical concerns, critics like Walker disagree. They argue that improving monkey cognition brings ethical concerns and requires stronger justification.

The study raises questions about the future of human gene research and its implications, with experts warning of unforeseen consequences.

The news highlights the potential advancements and ethical dilemmas in genetic research aimed at understanding and enhancing intelligence.


  1. Advancement in Genetic Research: The successful insertion of a human intelligence gene into monkeys indicates a significant advancement in genetic research. It opens doors to further understanding the genetic basis of intelligence and brain development.
  2. Medical Research: Insights gained from this study could have implications for understanding and treating neurodegenerative diseases, cognitive disorders, and other brain-related conditions in humans.
  3. Ethical and Moral Considerations: The research raises ethical questions about the manipulation of animal and potentially human intelligence. It sparks debates on the moral boundaries of genetic modification and the rights of genetically modified organisms.
  4. Regulation and Oversight: As genetic research pushes boundaries, there may be increased calls for regulations to ensure ethical conduct, safety, and responsible use of genetic technologies.
  5. Human Evolution and Identity: The study challenges our understanding of human evolution and identity. It prompts discussions on what it means to be human and how genetic modifications could impact human evolution.
  6. Societal Attitudes: Public perception and acceptance of genetic modification could shift based on the outcomes and implications of such research. It could lead to broader discussions about societal values, beliefs, and the role of science in shaping our future.
  7. Global Collaboration and Standards: Given the international nature of genetic research, there may be a need for global collaboration, standards, and guidelines to ensure consistency, transparency, and ethical conduct across different countries and cultures.

In essence, the news signifies a groundbreaking development in genetic research with far-reaching implications for science, medicine, ethics, and society at large. It prompts reflection and discussion on the future direction of genetic research and its impact on humanity.

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