Manifestations of Conservatism in Gerontology

I'm sure you're familiar with conservatism in the gerontology community with regard to serious anti-aging research; Aubrey de Grey's The Curious Case of the Catatonic Biogerontologists gives a good account of this phenomenon - and what can and should be done about it. How does this conservatism manifest itself in terms of research and funding recommendations, however?

The short answer is that conservative gerontologists call for more efforts to understand aging. More aging research in the current fashion in other words; conversatism manifests itself as a fixation on developing an ever more complete picture of the molecular biochemistry and genetics of the aging process. More knowledge is not a bad thing, but conservative gerontologists are unwilling to admit that current levels of knowledge are sufficient to begin research and development of meaningful healthy life extension therapies - the application of this knowledge.

More forward looking, engineering-based proposals (like Aubrey de Grey's Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence initiative) differ by stating that we already know enough to make meaningful inroads into real anti-aging research and the development of therapies to extend healthy life span. This is self-evidently true, as a comparison with any other field of medicine should demonstrate. We don't have a complete understanding of cancer (or almost any other medical condition by gerontological standards of "complete understanding"), yet that hasn't stopped the scientific community from producing ever more effective treatments as our level of knowledge increases.

The road to a cure for aging, like the road to a cure for cancer, has many waystations - each representating some level of treatment, some level of extended healthy life spans. Conservative gerontology ignores the existence of those waystations. Can you imagine a world in which cancer research proceeded that way, pure research with no funding invested in application and the development of therapies?