Josiah Zayner, the CEO of the biohacking startup The Odin, is currently under investigation for practicing medicine without a license.
Health Officials Investigating Biohacking Celebrity
On May 8, Zayner, who has amassed a sizeable following for injecting himself with gene-editing technology CRISPR, received a letter from California's Department of Consumer Affairs asking him to discuss a complaint filed against him.
"We have been reviewing a complaint of unlicensed practice of medicine filed against you," the letter posted on social media read. "The District Medical Consultant and I are now at the point in our review where we would like to discuss this matter with you to ensure our information is complete."
The authorities said that he is "welcome" to bring an attorney. The interview is set to be conducted on June 11.
Zayner said that he is being unfairly persecuted for "genetic self experimentation" and for "showing people how to access publicly available knowledge." He also denied providing medical treatment nor sold material to treat diseases to anyone.
"I can't believe the government is spending time investigating me when they could be helping leak spoilers to Rick & Morty season 4. Ya' know?" He added in a statement to Ars Technica.
If proven guilty, the biohacking celebrity could be facing up to three years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
Biohackers are people who "optimize" or "upgrade" their bodies through various ways. In this case, Zayner and his followers experiment with home-brewed gene-therapy treatments in the hopes of altering their bodies.
In 2017, he made headlines after injecting himself with the gene-editing technology CRISPR to modify his muscle genes. He also once carried out a fecal transplant in a hotel room in an attempt to replace his gut microbiome.
Zayner runs his own company, The Odin, out of his garage in California. He sells biohacking supplies, including a do-it-yourself genetic engineering kit for $1,849.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has previously issued a warning against the biohacking celebrity for selling kits that produce glow-in-the-dark beer. The federal agency also released a statement cautioning consumers about the serious safety risks of do-it-yourself gene therapy kits.
Zayner is a former NASA scientist. He left the space agency back in 2015, saying that he was "fed up with the system."