Quotable Quotes and a Live, Online Discussion With Aubrey de Grey

The long Chronicle of Higher Education article on biomedical gerontologist Aubrey de Grey and his tireless efforts to speed the development of working anti-aging medicine is a good read. I recommended forwarding the link to all the healthy life extension skeptics and wavering supporters in your address book. Here are some of the better quotes:

de Grey is a serious, thoughtful, sincere, prolific, even brilliant researcher and thinker who seems to have devoted every last ounce of his intellect to conquering the single biggest medical menace facing mankind. Along the way, he has acquired plenty of supporters and detractors - and gained the respect of some of the top scientists in the world.

...

It may seem surprising that someone of Dr. Atala's stature was a featured speaker at an on-the-fringe conference. Although he declines to pass judgment on Mr. de Grey's more-extreme prognostications, he clearly respects him. "Aubrey is highly visionary and very selfless in his approach," Dr. Atala says. "It takes people like Aubrey to say 'Hey, look at this again. Maybe there is another way to do this.'"

...

Perhaps the biggest celebrity at the conference was Woo Suk Hwang, a South Korean researcher who has shocked the scientific world in the last few years with his laboratory's achievements. ... And yet there he was [at SENS 2], along with dozens of other well-regarded scientists who study anticancer therapies, immune-system disorders, or cellular aging. There were also less-mainstream researchers who look at topics like how to preserve tissue cryogenically. It was a strange hodgepodge of scientists who would probably never meet otherwise.

...

In 1995, after having absorbed a great deal of genetics, Mr. de Grey moved on to gerontology, a subject that had always intrigued him. For two months he immersed himself in the literature. He emerged with an insight into the mechanics of mitochondrial mutations, wrote a paper on what he thought, and submitted it to a respected journal.

It was accepted. He was off to a good start.

...

"Aubrey's always arguing against people who tell him he's crazy," says Graham Pawelec, a professor of experimental immunology at the University of Tübingen in Germany. "I have never heard him lose an argument." ... "In 10 years, we will have proof that we can cure these seven things and therefore beat aging," says Mr. Pawelec, who spoke at the conference on "immunorejuvenation" in the elderly. "All of my mainstream colleagues will be up there saying Aubrey was right. And then the general public will believe it."

...

"There are people who say that if Aubrey says it must be right then it must be wrong." At the same time, despite his criticism, Mr. Finkelstein has some appreciation for Mr. de Grey's role as provocateur. "I like him," he says. "He ruffles feathers. He has the balls to say stuff."

The question is whether that stuff will prove to be true. Gregory M. Fahy, a biologist and vice president and chief scientific officer of 21st Century Medicine, a biomedical research company, was very skeptical at first. While they still do not agree on everything, Mr. Fahy has been largely won over. And, like Mr. Finkelstein, he respects Mr. de Grey for his courage in the face of ridicule. "If you think you're right, you have to stand up and say what you believe even if people think you're nuts," says Mr. Fahy. "Now, if they prove you're nuts, you have to shut up. But that hasn't happened yet."

On Tuesday November 1st at 1pm EST, the Chronicle will be holding a live, online discussion with Aubrey de Grey. Mark your calendars!

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