Leading longevity researcher accused of sexual harassment

Until this week, Aubrey de Grey was best known as the longevity researcher who predicted the first human to live 1,000 years may already be alive. Now, de Grey stands accused of being a sexual predator. 

Celine Halioua, who received research funding from de Grey’s SENS Research Foundation, set out her accusations in a blog post titled “Aubrey de Grey is a sexual predator.” Laura Deming, founder of life extension VC shop The Longevity Fund, set out separate allegations against de Grey in her own blog post.

Deming wrote: “I had one bad experience with him when I was 17—he told me in writing that he had an ‘adventurous love life’ and that it had ‘always felt quite jarring’ not to let conversations with me stray in that direction given that ‘[he] could treat [me] as an equal on every other level.’ He sent this from his work email, and I’d known him since I was 14.” 

At the time, Deming said she “wrote it off as a mistake.” However, “in the past few months, in part through conversations with Celine Halioua,” Deming has come to believe her experience is part of “a serial pattern he’s enacted with women over whom he’s in a position of power.”

The accusations made by Halioua center on a dinner at which she was sat next to de Grey by a SENS executive. “I was told to keep him ‘entertained’; Aubrey funneled me alcohol and hit on me the entire night. He told me that I was a ‘glorious woman’ and that as a glorious woman I had a responsibility to have sex with the SENS donors in attendance so they would give money to him,” Halioua wrote.

Halioua “left that dinner sobbing” and said it has taken her “years to shake the deep-seated belief that I only got to where I am due to older men wanting to have sex with me.” In the post, Halioua accused an unnamed SENS executive of harassing her “so severely” that she “eventually dropped out of my PhD to escape him.” Halioua is now CEO of a biotech startup developing drugs to extend dog life span.

De Grey responded to the accusations in a Facebook post. The longevity researcher admitted he “inadvisedly” wrote the email discussed by Deming and “unreservedly” regrets having done so. In all other regards, de Grey denies the accusations, which he framed as a setup. 

“I'm putting it out there right now: if other accusers come forward with supporting evidence, I will step aside a great deal faster than Cuomo just did. But if they don't … who's the real culprit here? Hint: in my ever-so-personal view, it's not Celine or Laura. The unequivocally clear conclusion that I draw from the above is that they have been set up,” de Grey wrote.

De Grey believes people have “deceived” Deming and Halioua “into the view that I have done many things that I have in fact not done.” As to who would orchestrate such a deception and why, de Grey said: “I have been vigorously advised to keep my counsel on that question for another day or two … but, as they say, watch this space.”

SENS has put de Grey on administrative leave. An independent investigation into the allegations, which SENS first learned of in late June, is now underway.