The year heads towards its close again, and it seems somewhat traditional for people to make charitable 501(c)3 or equivalent donations around this time. I was asked for recommendations a few times in the past month, and here they are:
At the head of my list is the SENS Foundation, the best organized and most central of the small number of groups working on ways to rejuvenate the old by repairing the cellular and molecular damage that causes aging. The SENS Foundation is a research organization: they put money to work in the laboratory. Given that rejuvenation of the old is the goal, the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) is far more attractive as a charitable cause when compared to most aging research. The vast majority of researchers in the field of aging and longevity aim at best to modestly slow aging, if they are even working on the basis for therapies. If we want to see significant progress towards engineered human longevity in our lifetimes, it is very important to support work that credibly aims to do more than simply slow the degenerations of aging a little.
At this point in the ebb and flow of advocacy and research programs, SENS would benefit from a more rapid flow of tangible research results, preferably attractive and easily comprehended by the public at large. Bootstrapping from modest funding to grand funding is a matter of side-by-side progress in advocacy on the one hand and results in the lab on the other - neither can really move too far ahead of the other. The best way to help progress at this time is to donate and persuade others to donate, as money creates results. The SENS Foundation is a very efficient engine for turning philanthropic funds into progress in the best sort of longevity science.
If you know enough about the work under development and which approaches you favor you might even consider calling the SENS Foundation folk to talk about more directed donations - for example, if you are intrigued by the UK-based work on breaking down glucosepane. But for most of us the reason to donate to a trusted organization staffed by smart and knowledgeable folk is because they can do a better job of directing funds to the goal of engineered longevity than we can: they know the researchers, are familiar with who is doing what in which laboratories, and all the tricks of the trade when it comes to stretching funds as far as they can go.
The SENS Foundation donation page can be a little hard to find, so here is a link. Have at it. You are not going to find a better place to put money if progress towards therapies of human rejuvenation is your goal.
The New Organ initiative is driven by the folk at the Methuselah Foundation, in alliance with tissue printing company Organovo and a range of other advocates. They are building a crowdsourced research prize to speed development in tissue engineering of complex organs. As you might know, the Methuselah Foundation runs the Mprize for longevity science, and was the umbrella organization for SENS research prior to the formation of the SENS Foundation.
It will likely require decades to move from present day technology demonstrations in growing small amounts of structured tissue to the ability to print functional hearts, livers, and lungs to order. There is plenty of room to accelerate that process - and research prizes have shown their worth in this and many other fields of human endeavor. The faster it goes, the more lives can be saved.
Research prizes offer a purse for specific goals in development, and tend to encourage far more activity in a field than would otherwise take place. A well run prize acts as incentive, beacon, watering hole, loudspeaker, and clearing house for research and development - enlivening the field, drawing attention and funding. If you recall the way in which the Mprize for longevity science grew back when it was the Methuselah Mouse Prize - well, the New Organ Prize something like that, but with the benefit of social networks, modern online donation management services, and a focus on tissue engineering and organ printing.
To donate and set up your own fundraising page, see the New Organ 100 instructions.