Science

Antiaging scientist found to have sexually harassed young women

The SENS Research Foundation on 10 September published the findings of an investigation by an outside lawyer that concluded the foundation’s co-founder, Aubrey de Grey, made offensive sexual comments to two female biotech entrepreneurs, one beginning when she was 17 years old. De Grey, a pioneering antiaging scientist, was removed as SENS chief science officer on 21 August after he attempted to interfere in the investigation by contacting a complainant through an intermediary, SENS said.

SENS launched the investigation in June, placing de Grey on administrative leave. After the foundation allowed de Grey to lead a July fundraiser, the two women went public with their allegations in blog posts in August.

One woman, Celine Halioua, founder and CEO of the startup Loyal, said that in 2018 when she was a SENS-supported graduate student, de Grey urged her to have sex with donors to attract contributions. The published investigation, conducted by the firm Van Dermyden Makus, reports that de Grey denied her account. But the investigator wrote that during an interview on 14 July, de Grey said he believes that “those in the aging industry need to use whatever means necessary to fight the war on aging. … [He] explained … ‘It is at the same level of women in World War II sleeping with Nazis to get information. It is a war against aging here. You have to persuade people to give money … I am the general.’”

On Friday, de Grey told STAT, concerning the report: “The logic that’s been employed to reach [its] conclusions, is, shall we say, not the kind of logic that I would apply as a scientist.”

In a Facebook post after the investigation was published, de Grey apologized to Laura Deming, founder of the Longevity Fund, an antiaging investment firm, who received sexual emails from him when he was her mentor, just before and just after her 18th birthday. “I have a fairly adventurous love life, and I’m not coy in talking about it,” his first email declared. The second said that in writing her a recommendation he “resisted the temptation to include ‘hotter than hell’” in describing her. But in the Facebook post he added “I categorically deny” that he emailed her “with improper intent.”

Deming and Halioua told STAT that since going public, they’ve been the target of abusive emails, texts, and social media posts from de Grey supporters.

SENS noted in a statement it released with the investigative report that other women have made allegations that the law firm is continuing to investigate.



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