Update (September 13): Aubrey de Grey committed sexual harassment against two female entrepreneurs, concludes the independent investigation into de Grey’s alleged comments to Laura Deming and Celine Halioua. The two women confirmed to STAT that they are the unnamed complainants in the report, released late Friday, September 10.
Update (August 23): The SENS Research Foundation has removed Aubrey de Grey from his role as chief science officer after he allegedly tried to interfere with an independent investigation into claims of sexual harassment, according to a statement from the foundation’s Board of Directors. The investigation is ongoing.
Aubrey de Grey, a self-taught gerontologist who has promoted the idea that aging is a preventable, pathological phenomenon, has been placed on leave by the research foundation he cofounded and an investigation into alleged sexual harassment is underway, STAT reports today (August 11).
Last night, the female founders of two companies aimed at healthy life span extension, Laura Deming of the Longevity Fund and Celine Halioua of Loyal, relayed experiences they say they had with de Grey years earlier on Twitter and their personal blogs. De Grey posted a response on Facebook denying the allegations.
Both women describe situations in which de Grey, who cofounded the aging-focused SENS Research Foundation in 2009, explicitly spoke with them about sex. According to Halioua’s account, he even told her that it was her responsibility to sleep with SENS donors to encourage financial contributions. Deming was only 17 when, she alleges, de Grey told her he wanted to speak with her about his “adventurous love life.” Deming says that when she recently became aware that this was not a one-off incident, she was “angry to realize that Aubrey inappropriately propositioned more than one woman over whom he was in a position of power, many in the community knew about it, and no one did anything,” she writes.
SENS Acting Executive Director Lisa Fabiny tells STAT in an emailed statement that the foundation, where de Grey is chief science officer, first became aware of Deming’s and Halioua’s stories in June and has since commissioned an independent investigation of the claims.
“We respect the integrity of this investigative process, and it would not be appropriate to speculate on the outcomes while the process remains ongoing,” she writes. “We can promise that we will take seriously the findings and, if appropriate, take decisive action. We cannot and do not condone behavior that makes our colleagues and members of our scientific community feel victimized, targeted, or harmed.”
According to Halioua, de Grey is not the only SENS executive to have harassed young women at the foundation, and she further alleges that “SENS did not act” when first presented with the testimonies of such harassment. But Fabiny tells STAT, “No other allegations were brought to SRF management and no other employees of SRF have ever been accused of sexual misconduct.”