I'm also right, Renji had said. His last words before he had stalked out of the lab. His last words before the final paper from his postdoctoral research had been published taken the bioengineering world by storm.
Four years, two months, and fifteen days later, universities worldwide were fighting to nab the star young professor.
Inui was the target of no such attention. He had finished his postdoctoral research with several solid, but not groundbreaking papers under his belt and had used them to land a position at a small technical college. It couldn't offer him the funding of a large university, but it also freed him from the unrelenting publishing pressures of the same. So long as his lab put out a few papers per year in respected journals in the field and taught his two undergraduate classes per semester, he was free to spend the rest of his time as he saw fit.
That was exactly what he needed, he thought as he spent another night in the lab with only the background hum of the ventilation system and the intermittent beeps of equipment for company (and the occasional startling pop of the liquid nitrogen tank with the faulty pressure release valve that he really did need to remember to report at some point). While his group did have their main research questions, this was his own pet project he shared with no one else. A project he had been working on for over four years now. A project that had started the day Renji had excitedly shown him the results from his newest trial. The day Inui had learned some people cared more for publication and citation metrics than ethics.
It wasn't that Renji's research itself had been flawed; on the contrary, it had been as by-the-book as one could be, and widely replicated since. No, the issue was the broader ethical concerns raised by any sort of genetic engineering. There was no taking back Renji's paper now, but for the last four-odd years, Inui had poured everything into a technique that could counteract Renji's.
Nearly every large research institution now had at least one group studying applications of Renji's methods in medicine, and Inui wished them all the best. His research would have little effect on them. Nor would it likely have much effect on the growing number of companies promising an easier route to the body or health of one's dreams. What he hoped to block were the rumors he had feared from the start. The whispers of clandestine research into the applications of Renji's methods for biological warfare. The ability to induce cancers in an entire population, or to create a vulnerability to a drug that would have no effect on an unexposed group. The sort of things that were far better limited to the pages of a dystopian science fiction novel.
The glow of the UV light cast an eerie pall over the corner of the lab as Inui examined his most recent test samples. Preliminary results had been promising, but this was his most rigorous test yet. After ten consecutive exposures to Renji's gene-editing technique, nearly all of his samples were fluorescing the bright green of GFP, but three remained dark. All three had first been treated with his newest test compound.
Inui updated his notes and returned to his computer, satisfied he had now done sufficient checking of his data prior to publication. He would worry about putting together research for formal publication later, but for now, he went to the largest forum for news, discussion, and pre-publication data in the bioengineering world. "Preliminary results," he began.
Four years, two months, and fifteen days since he last spoke to Renji. Four years, two months, and fifteen days since they had stopped bouncing ideas off of each other in the lab and continuing the conversations late into the night in their shared apartment. Four years, two months, and fifteen days after they stopped being collaborators, Inui took his first public step as an opposing force.
"There's more than one way to be right," he muttered as he hit send.
You're up, mousapelli