The Advancer movement started early in the 22nd century when geneticist Dr Helmut Strane pioneered a micro-surgical technique for implanting bionic components into monkeys. His life’s work had been to try and create robotic components which were compatible with organic matter. Originally sponsored by the Pan-Asian government, he made rapid advances in micro-surgery, particularly in the area of brain control function within monkeys. Under the cover of this legitimate research, he started diverting funds to buy prisoners from corrupt officials in the Department of Containment to use in his studies.
An investigative journalist exposed the illegal experiments across the unisphere and Strane was himself incarcerated on Earth. However, during the course of his scientific career he had built up a loyal following of scientists who strongly believed that to continue evolving, humans needed to explore genetic modification and bionic implants. This secretive clique was rich in funds and hired a band of mercenaries who staged an audacious rescue of Dr Strane.
In great secrecy, Dr Strane continued his experiments on Viacrona, a colony world at the edge of explored space. Freed from the moral constraints of a legitimate research programme, Strane and his team continued with theirs experiments on humans. With some techniques now reaching maturity, Strane subjected himself to various bodily modifications, which extended his natural life for many decades longer than would have been expected. His exact age at the time of his death was rumoured to be around 170, although the exact age is unknown due to the shroud of secrecy in which he operated.
After his death, his team of researchers continued with their work and began to gain some respectability after licensing their technology to the Valseir Lifesciences Corporation. Subsequently, acceptance of genetic modifications began to increase throughout the Commonwealth, although many parts of society still remain sceptical.
One of the biggest adopters and beneficiaries of the new genetic technology were the Grand Families, who had been suffering from illness and mutation following centuries of inter-breeding amongst the families. With the help of a handful of Grand Families, the Strane Institute for Advanced Studies was established on Viacrona. Further licensing deals followed and genetic modification took on almost religious proportions as Commonwealth society began to polarise into pro- and anti-Advancement points of view.
The Advancers faction are the most devout and dedicated followers among the citizenry of the Commonwealth.