Noted biohacker Josiah Zayner says he's under investigation for practicing medicine without a license. The former NASA scientist, known on social media for his DIY medical procedures, was sent a letter by the California Department of Consumer Affairs after it received a "complaint of unlicensed practice of medicine" against Zayner. As MIT Technology Review highlights, while anyone can file a complaint with California's medical board, the fact it is now investigating means it considers the accusations credible.
WTF!!!! I have been accused of practicing medicine without a license because of genetic self-experimentation and showing people how to access publicly available knowledge.
The truth is... https://t.co/j9Yoy0rKPR
— Josiah Zayner (@4LOVofScience) May 14, 2019
Biohackers are individuals that perform medical experiments outside university labs and accredited companies. Zayner found fame online for a raft of stunts, including carrying out a fecal transplant and injecting his own arm with CRISPR. He's also well known for his disdain for the US Food and Drug Administration, which he accuses of blocking innovation and putting lives at risk.
His company, The Odin, sells a variety of DIY biology tests, including a $209 kit that makes florescent yeast. But neither The Odin nor any other biohacker have yet to develop any notable genetic treatments. In a post on social media, Zayner wrote, ""I have never given anyone anything to inject or use, never sold any material meant to treat a disease and never claim to provide treatments or cures because I knew this day would come." He added that he was being unfairly targeted for "showing people how to access publicly available knowledge."
California's medical board has requested an interview with Zayner on June 11th, informing him that he is "welcome to bring an attorney," although it's not obligatory. There is a risk, however, since California law makes the practice of medicine without a license a misdemeanor, or a felony. Should officials feel that Zayner has broken the law, he could be forced to cough up $10,000 -- or worse, spend three years behind bars.