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The 7 a.m. Acela out of South Station in Boston trembled along the rails toward Manhattan. David Sabatini sat alone on the left side of the train. He had brought along a science paper to work on, but had a lot on his mind. He kept his Wordle streak alive on his phone, and stared out at the picturesque Connecticut coastline. His clothing hung loose from recent weight loss, presumably from stress.

It was Jan. 4, 2022, a brisk sunny day. The tall, gangling scientist with a long mess of black hair had once generated Nobel Prize buzz for his discoveries in biology. But at that moment, he was unemployed in his 50s, his reputation ruined, spending many nights in his brother’s guest room or on his ex-wife’s sofa, so emotionally distraught that his family was afraid to leave him alone.

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