You'll recall that aging researcher Leonid Gavrilov was looking for suggestions on a Perspectives piece for the Science Advisory Board. You can find a recent draft copy via the always useful transhumantech list:
This Perspectives paper was commissioned to me for the Internet community of about 25,000 lab scientists, who are unfamiliar with aging and life-extension research. Hopefully this paper may help to increase public support for scientific studies on aging and life-extension.
If so, then why should we care about caloric restriction at all? Well,the answer to this question is that we can study the mechanisms of anti-aging action of caloric restriction, and this may help us to develop drugs that mimic the positive anti-aging effects of caloric restriction, while being free of its negative side effects. Also in this case there will be no need to impose severe limitations on human diet requiring a strong willpower. In other words, the caloric restriction is not an ultimate solution to the aging problem, but rather a light in the end of a tunnel, which gives us a hope and shows the way to go.
One thing is for sure: The dietary guidelines alone will not allow to defeat aging and to extend healthy lifespan beyond current longevity records. To achieve these goals we need concentration of the best minds and resources (like Manhattan project). These resources are unlikely to come from federal funding overstretched by war efforts, but perhaps they might come from such wealthy visionaries like George Soros, Bill Gates and Pierre Omidyar, who could make a difference.
Much of the currently funded research that pertains to healthy life extension is in the field of calorie restriction, calorie restriction mimetics and other ways to extend life through manipulating metabolic processes. As Gavrilov points out, this is not a path that will lead to radical life extension, but it is a step towards wider acceptance and understanding of the fight to cure aging. In terms of philanthropy, Gavrilov is clearly in much the same camp as biogerontologist Aubrey de Grey - he sees evangelism of healthy life extension to wealthy philanthropists to be a viable way forward in the face of conservatism within the gerontological community.