"This research raises troubling scientific, legal and ethical issues," said Doug Miller, director of the media relations team at Rice University. In a statement, Miller said Rice "had no knowledge of this work."
He says he used a tool called CRISPR-Cas9, which can insert or deactivate certain genes, to alter the DNA of several embryos and make them resistant to HIV.
Deem did not respond to CNN's calls and emails, but told The Associated Press that he was in China with families at the time they gave their consent and that they "absolutely" believed they understood the risks.
Deem also said he has "a small stake" and is on the scientific advisory board of two of He's companies.
Rice University said it did not believe any of the clinical work was done in the United States, but "regardless of where it was done, this work, as described in the press reports, violates the guidelines of scientific conduct and is inconsistent with the ethical standards of the scientists, community and the University of rice ".
Matthews wrote in an email that "he was surprised yesterday, like many others, to discover that Professor Deem was involved in this investigation." Adding that she had just started working with Deem, she said that she had "seen nothing to suggest that Professor Deem's scientific work is in doubt," nor that she believed that any of the coauthor's article data was affected.
"If Professor Deem had informed me about his work with the use of CRISPR in human embryos to develop a baby, he would have recommended extreme caution with this technology in human embryos and wait for more data on risks before using embryos manipulated for pregnancies", wrote Matthews.
He, who according to the university was "the son of rice farmers in Hunan province in China," was the lead author of Deem in a paper that presents a mathematical model that could determine within two weeks whether a new strain of the virus of influenza should be included in the annual seasonal flu vaccine. The model of the World Health Organization takes up to six months.
"Jiankui is a student of great impact," Deem said in 2010. "He has done a fantastic job here at Rice, and I am sure he will have great success in his career."
Oscar Holland and Serenitie Wang of CNN contributed to this report.