September 28, 2021 – In recent weeks the United States Transhumanist Party (USTP), many of its members, and others within the transhumanist and life-extension communities have expressed resounding support for the character, ideas, and work of biomedical gerontologist Dr. Aubrey de Grey, originator of the concept of SENS – Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence – and co-founder of both the Methuselah Foundation in 2003 and the SENS Research Foundation (SENS RF) in 2009. Many individuals who admire Dr. de Grey and his work have also shared their profound concerns at the deep injustice perpetrated by the SENS RF Board of Directors when it removed Dr. de Grey from his position as Chief Science Officer of the SENS RF on August 21, 2021, without waiting for the conclusion of the investigation into certain allegations that had been made against him.
The USTP considers the allegations against Dr. de Grey to unjustly cast him in an unfavorable light, despite a lack of sufficient evidence behind those allegations, and despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary – evidence of Dr. de Grey’s upstanding character, integrity, and generous treatment of numerous persons with whom he has interacted.
Many transhumanists and longevity advocates have also shared their positive experiences with Aubrey de Grey. These testimonials are attached in the Appendix of this statement.
The USTP shares the displeasure of these transhumanists and life-extension advocates at the purported “independent” Investigative Report, released on September 10, 2021, which appears to have been commissioned by the SENS RF Board of Directors to validate a preconceived course of action and without providing any benefit of due process or the presumption of innocence to Aubrey de Grey. The Board’s action was particularly ill-conceived since a second Investigative Report, which was provided to the Board on September 28, 2021, apparently failed to find any additional credible accusers or allegations, despite three months of exhaustively searching for such – hence the SENS RF Board’s decision not to disclose that report to the public, as its disclosure would clearly illustrate to everyone involved the immensely overhyped character of the entire incident and also thereby show the manifestly unjust and untenable nature of the SENS RF Board’s decision to terminate Dr. de Grey.
The USTP views the first Investigative Report as lacking true independence, as being based on a weak “preponderance of evidence” standard, and as primarily expressing the investigator’s subjective opinions without introducing substantive new information about the allegations in question. USTP Chairman Gennady Stolyarov II previously published a detailed analysis of the first Investigative Report and noted, “This report underscores the essentially ubiquitous fact that, in corporate America, ‘he who pays the piper calls the tune.’ There is no true possibility of a neutral, independent investigation when the investigator is financially compensated by one of the parties with a preconceived interest in the outcome. Whatever the personal ethics of the investigator, it would remain the case – and this is true for any paid professional contractor – that she would be concerned about where her future revenue stream would be coming from. Releasing a report that challenged or undermined the well-publicized intentions of (and actions already taken by) her clients – the Board of the SENS Research Foundation – would have jeopardized her future opportunities to be retained by the same clients or similar corporate boards, whose interest is not so much in the objective truth, but rather in ratifying the legitimacy of the Board’s actions after the fact and mitigating adverse publicity.”
The USTP is further troubled that a mere allegation of what amounts to no more than comments made years ago could have such a devastating impact to the life’s work and career of one of the brightest and most accomplished scientists in the rejuvenation biotechnology field. Whereas anyone accused of crimes such as murder or theft would be entitled to due process and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, the writing of a poorly thought-out email nearly a decade ago, or the alleged making of an implausible suggestion at a dinner multiple years ago (for which there is no concrete evidence at all), seems not to merit those same protections in the minds of those wishing to act as judge, jury, and executioner in the present contrived scandal. It is clear to the USTP that these matters have only surfaced because of Dr. de Grey’s immense fundraising success in attracting an unprecedented $28 million in funding to the SENS RF as a result of the PulseChain Airdrop in July 2021. Even if the allegations made by “Complainant #1” and “Complainant #2” had been true, at worst the transgressions alleged would have amounted to unfortunate errors of judgment, for which an apology in private – not the destruction of a career and reputation – would have been the appropriate remedy.
Indeed, the absolute disproportionality between the alleged offense and the punishment is clear indication of an ulterior motive, whereby certain interests sought the removal of Dr. de Grey irrespective of the reason, and the present allegations were merely a convenient pretext to justify such removal. It is the hope of the USTP that the nature of the ulterior motives and the persons behind them will be revealed in due time.
In the meantime, the USTP calls for the SENS RF Board of Directors to immediately take the following actions:
1. Reinstate Dr. de Grey as Chief Science Officer;
2. Issue a complete retraction and disavowal of the irreparably flawed first “Investigative Report” of September 10, 2021;
3. Issue a public apology to Dr. de Grey for publicly tarnishing his reputation with unsubstantiated allegations and for terminating him on August 21, 2021, without due process; and
4. Effectuate the resignation of the Board member(s) who instigated the courses of action above. This does not pertain to the entire current Board of Directors, but rather to the specific member(s) who originated the plan and made the recommendation to the other Board members to terminate Dr. de Grey’s role as Chief Science Officer.
Until the aforementioned steps are taken, the USTP urges its members and other donors to discontinue all financial support from the SENS RF. The USTP considers the SENS approach to be inextricably linked with the ideas, contributions, and work of Dr. de Grey – and removing Dr. de Grey from any effort identified by the name “SENS” would leave that effort an empty shell, devoid of its essence and core organizing impetus.
Dr. de Grey remains a trusted Advisor and ally of the USTP, and the USTP stands ready to support him and to offer our resources and online platforms to amplify his voice. As USTP Chairman Stolyarov remarked, “Dr. Aubrey de Grey’s work is literally saving lives, and the extent of his ability to continue this work going forward will affect how many lives are saved and how soon. Approximately 110,000 people die every day of causes related to biological aging. We cannot simply let these deaths transpire because of the allegations of two decade-old emails and an implausible comment. The stakes cannot be higher, and Aubrey de Grey deserves to be acknowledged as a hero for being on the front lines of the struggle for your life and mine.”
Appendix: Testimonials in Support of Dr. Aubrey de Grey by Transhumanists and Life-Extension Advocates
Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, recalled the transformative impact that Aubrey de Grey has had on his thinking and his view of what is possible. “Since I was a young child, I was always convinced that death due to aging is the greatest tragedy and injustice, but until I learned about the SENS approach through the work of Aubrey de Grey in 2004, I did not expect that biological aging could be reversed within my lifetime. Aubrey de Grey changed that perception for me. He has spent over two decades tirelessly spreading the insights of the SENS approach, working to convince me and eventually many others – both scientists and laypersons – that longevity escape velocity may be within reach if enough people embrace and fund this goal. Recognition of the potential of this approach to overcome the greatest injustice of all was, of course, life-changing for me, and led to my involvement with the transhumanist and longevity communities over the ensuing years. During my interactions with him, I have always found Aubrey de Grey to be remarkably approachable, generous with his time, and willing to help anybody seeking to understand the SENS approach and effective ways to promote it. Most individuals of Aubrey de Grey’s level of fame and workload would not be so open – but this speaks to the kind of person Aubrey de Grey is: uncommonly transparent, straightforward, insightful, and willing to share those insights sincerely and with the best intentions. The longevity industry today would be many years further behind were it not for Aubrey de Grey’s diligent advocacy, inspiration, and creation of networks of researchers, activists, and entrepreneurs who have been able to take rejuvenation biotechnology from the idea stage and into research breakthroughs and human clinical trials.”
Arin Vahanian, Vice-Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, recounted his interactions with Aubrey de Grey: “I first met Aubrey de Grey at RAADfest 2018 (coincidentally, that was also when I met my dear friend Gennady for the first time). Aubrey not only took time out of his schedule to chat, but he also invited me to the SENS booth. I found him to be thoughtful, humble, and kind. Earlier this year, I participated in a panel discussion with Aubrey with other officers of the Transhumanist Party, and he was not only very supportive of Transhumanism and the Transhumanist Party, but he also encouraged me to follow my goal of being involved in the biotech industry as a business executive.”
Artist and USTP Member Ekaterina Valinakova stated that she “met with Aubrey de Grey some years ago; he was pretty cool. He is a legend, and his work and contributions probably will lead to the saving of millions of lives. If Aubrey did not exist, the timeline for longevity escape velocity would probably be pushed back several years at least, perhaps as much as a decade. This translates to the difference between life and death for some of you here [reading this], and more importantly this translates to the difference between life and death for possibly hundreds of millions of people.”
Charlie Kam, the USTP Director of Marketing and previously the U.S. Transhumanist Party’s endorsed 2020 U.S. Presidential Candidate, stated, “Dr Aubrey de Grey is by far, one of the most dedicated humanitarian visionaries of our time, focused on the most important issue of ALL time, which is that of saving lives by ending aging. I’ve known of Aubrey and his amazing ideas long before he had even founded the SENS Foundation in 2009. I had read his writings, and met him, and listened to his presentations at several events throughout the early 2000s, and was so impressed, that by 2007, when I held the 3-day TransVision conference in Chicago, with over 30 speakers, I asked him to be one of the few star Keynote speakers, which included the likes of Ray Kurzweil and William Shatner. In all of our encounters over the years, both professionally and socially, I’ve known him to always be brilliantly engaging, humble, jovial, caring, respectful, and uncommonly generous. This last quality I mentioned, isn’t just my opinion, but was clearly and overwhelmingly proven to be factual in 2012, when he inherited $16 million, and then immediately proceeded to donate $13 million of it to the SENS Foundation. This action demonstrates not only his generosity, but also his integrity, and dedication to the cause, and success, of the SENS Research Foundation.”
“So I find it shocking, disappointing, and, frankly, rather foolish, and possibly corrupt, that the SENS RF Board would fire the very person who not only founded their foundation, but funded it in a large way.”
“I agree with the assessment presented by the USTP of the situation and the suggested remedies, which includes Aubrey’s reinstatement, a retraction of the tainted investigation, a public apology, and a ‘clean-up’ of the SENS board. And I would add one more caveat: If the SENS Research Foundation does not reinstate Aubrey because they believe he is of such immoral character, then they should not be willing to accept his ‘dirty money,’ and should return to him his $13 million donation!”
USTP Director of Publication Zach Richardson recalled, “I still remember the surge of excitement I felt reading the penultimate sentence of Chapter 4 in Ending Aging: ‘Michael Rae and I have worked hard in Part 2 to present cutting-edge science in a manner comprehensible to any educated layman who’s willing to put in the time to read it carefully.’ Educated layman, that was my preferred self-description! Aubrey laid down the law about the seven types of damage involved in aging, and I referred to the book at least once a quarter whenever I was agitating online. His idea of treating the effects of aging as an engineering problem to be solved, like replacing a broken windshield, reassured me that aging was a problem that could be beaten, and I was extremely pleased he had started the SENS RF. Aubrey has a powerful force of personality, and his dynamic and driven methodology is what is needed for anyone currently alive to have a chance at reaching Longevity Escape Velocity.”
USTP Member Rudi Hoffman explained, “Trust can be bifurcated into two components…do we trust a person’s INTENT, and do we trust their COMPETENCE? In both of these components, Dr. de Grey scores a perfect ten with reference to his foundational and epic work on human longevity.”
“Having been with Dr. de Grey in both professional presentations as well as social situations, I can attest to the depth of his basic decency, caring, and congruence with the enlightenment values modern humans share. In studying his book, the clarity of his thinking and the depth of his commitment is apparent. He has been uniquely effective in changing society’s basic paradigm about aging and death, in part because of his singular personality.”
“Along with others, I am shocked and dismayed at the disproportionate response by the SENS board to allegations of harassment. Even if true, a private apology might be warranted in response to the alleged statements, certainly not banishment from the organization Dr. de Grey has created, built, and helped fund.”
“I implore the SENS board to reconsider their actions and find a path toward cohesiveness, proportionality, and effective operations which are a direct result of one visionary human named Dr. Aubrey de Grey. Aubrey may not be a perfect human, but I would literally trust him with my life. It is very possible that our lives may thrive or wither based on rational minds prevailing in this matter.”
USTP Member Walter Crompton remarked, “I have spent considerable time with Aubrey, and never observed him speaking disrespectfully to, or about anyone, even though he seems comfortable speaking frankly with me.”
USTP Member Elysia Dawn commented, “Aubrey is one of the kindest and most generous people I have ever known. He only ever treated me with respect and kindness. I never saw him intentionally disrespect anyone.”
USTP Member Morris F. Johnson expressed his view that “It’s really sad [Aubrey de Grey] has to endure this. But when SENS started, he was touted as either a fool or a lunatic. He had proved to be a great global thought leader.”
Curry Taylor recounted that he “met [Aubrey de Grey] at RAADfest once; he was nothing but polite. We had a discussion about possible funding of SENS in the future. He was very optimistic about SENS’s future and also the future of aging-reversal research.”
Martin Lipovšek added, “Every time when I met Aubrey in person I saw a great human. I support defending him against accusations which work on the principle of ‘guilty until proven innocent.’”
Hugo Schmidt stated, “Aubrey’s been one of the most significant people I have ever met. He’s always been a gentleman, and a good-natured eccentric. I am convinced future generations will be thanking him. All of them.”