yes: Death of a Biohacker


Walt Crompton, an engineer and life extension enthusiast who worked as a contractor for Boston Scientific and other medical device manufacturers, started doing research for the company in the fall of 2016.

“I was allegedly a co-founder,” Mr. Crompton said. “At first there were big promises of equity sharing and so on but those things never materialized.”

Shortly after Mr. Traywick’s death, Mr. Crompton wrote an email to a friend about his ambivalence. He said that while the Ascendance founder’s behavior had convinced him to leave the company, he found himself “kicking the dirt, though, expecting that Aaron would go on to be rich and famous, while so many great contributors will not, precisely because of the way he elbows his way to the front of the line.”

Still, he wrote:

For me, it was enough that at least he was breaking through the frustrating inertia of our rejuvenation biotechnology movement. At age 65, and feeling the degenerative burn more and more, FDA timelines are just not good enough. Celebrating the heroism of “bio-hackers” comes easy. Funny, though, how his death has created a reactionary stir about bio-hacking, when, from all appearances, there was ZERO bio-hacking factors leading to his fall … Kinda like how a fringe anarchist assassinating the Archduke triggered WWI. Such is politics! We cannot expect logic and mercy to be primary forces in that realm.

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‘He Had Delusions’

Ascendance Biomedical was formed in the spring of 2016, not long before Mr. Traywick, then 26, was forced out of his adoptive cousin’s nonprofit, the Global Healthspan Policy Institute.

The cousin, Edwina Rogers, is a lobbyist and former economic adviser to the George W. Bush White House. She was also the founding executive director of the Secular Policy Institute, an organization that promotes the separation of religion and public policy, and is the chief executive of the Center for Prison Reform.

She did not know Mr. Traywick very well before she hired him. He had been adopted by her Aunt Rita and Uncle James so she would see him over the holidays, growing up.