One of our GRG Co-Founders, Dr. Robert Nathan, asked Dr. Hood during the Q&A Session that followed his lecture this afternoon at CalTech (attended by Prof. David Baltimore, CalTech President), "But what about aging, which you hardly mentioned in your talk? Shouldn't that receive some special focus of attention in the new Systems Biology?"
Hood replied: "We've made some spectacular progress in aging research using model organisms like C. elegans and Drosphila. Next, we have to apply this knowledge to humans. I predict that, by applying the principles of Systems Biology, in ten years we can expect to see a 10- to 20-year increase in average life expectancy for the general population. In ten years, with the cost of DNA sequencing coming down by another 100,000-fold due to advances in technology, every single person in this room, who wishes, will have their unique DNA sequence routinely placed in a computer data base that will lead to custom therapeutic interventions that are tailored to their individual, idiosyncratic genes."
The point regarding cost reductions is one that is frequently made by Randall Parker. I see advances in life span of the sort projected by Leroy Hood as incidental life extension - not arising due to deliberate efforts to extend the healthy human life span, but rather due to increased capabilities in medical interventions across the board. According to the reliability theory of aging, the more cellular wear and damage you prevent throughout your lifetime, the longer you will live. Incidental life extension isn't a bad thing, but directed, serious anti-aging research is needed in order to reach escape velocity - in which healthy life span increases faster than we age - in our lifetimes.