On John Sperling, Or "What To Do With Three Billion Dollars"

The recent Wired article on John Sperling has the healthy life extension community very happy. Here is an enormously wealthy individual who is prepared to stand up and made a difference to the future of medicine and the business of extending the healthy human life span. While a number of insiders were already familiar with some of John Sperling's projects (such as the successful Kronos Company; a very interesting venture in and of itself, worthy of a longer commentary even without considering the larger scheme of which it is a part).

Aubrey de Grey has long said that what the underfunded science of aging needs is high net worth philanthropy - the promise of serious funding is the best motivation you can give to the scientific establishment. This is why Aubrey and Dave Gobel founded the Methuselah Foundation and are working on the Methuselah Mouse Prize. (Research prizes are a great idea, by the way, and I explain why at the Longevity Meme).

I have long said that healthy life extension needs serious venture capital investment: to build an industry, to lead to greater public awareness, to speed the essential research into tools and technologies. This is why I make an effort to keep people informed about young companies like BioMarker Pharmaceuticals, Suspended Animation and Elixir Pharmaceuticals, as well as more established ventures like Geron and Advanced Cell Technology. They are all doing good work.

John Sperling's projects should keep both myself and Aubrey happy: he is both creating a self-sustaining industry and funding the necessary research to make it happen. As an added bonus, he is also funding efforts to remove the politicians largely responsible for anti-research legislation that is squashing the nascent regenerative medicine industry.

A couple of interesting threads on John Sperling and the Wired article are currently underway at the Immortality Institute:

- What would you do with three billion dollars?
- University of Pheonix founder, John Sperling

Now all we need is another five or ten people like John Sperling - and with resources to match - to step up to the plate and bat. Then we'd be set. Any takers in the audience?


I just found out about the article over at the Orkut Transhumanists community, and of course I check here and it was already covered days ago. When I read this part:

'"In research, we will be radical," he claims, and to back that up, he points to Cutler's plan to engineer a long-lived supermouse that could help illuminate the aging-related genes in people.'

...I wonder how much money he is getting to engineer this supermouse and whether they are aware of the Methuselah Mouse project. It would seem a good idea to hedge their bets and throw some money at MM to encourage a supermouse to be developed by someone while at the same time ensuring that at least one person is directly working on the problem.

I am also really excited that he feels the war on drugs is part of the overall problem and needs to come to and end and is willing to put in money to make it happen. Overall, this article and the subject whom it is about is amazing.

Posted by: tomo at February 14th, 2004 11:10 AM
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