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A Prediction on Healthy Life Extension Research and Political Engagement

For all that a number of folk, myself included, don't see big government funding as the way forward for healthy life extension research, I think it's safe to predict increasing political engagement by the gerontology community on this topic. The advance of advocacy and plausible science backing radical life extension acts to bring the mainstream out of their conservative ways and into the realm of supporting modest healthy life extension of a few decades ... but at least they're willing to get to work on the problem now!

The mainstream of early stage science or basic research in most Western countries is heavily funded by government sources - perhaps 30% of total funding in the US, for example. Once the mainstream research community gets behind a particular idea, they'll seek to craft an environment that awards funding for related research. From there, support tends to spread out to more conservative patient advocate groups, and then out into the wider political ecosphere. At some point healthy life extension research will no doubt become yet another ball for politicians to misuse in their power games.

The gerontology and broader aging research community is sufficiently taken with modest healthy life extension - as of the moment, at least - that we'll soon be seeing organized attempts to engineer government funding. Admittedly, I get to hear these things a little in advance, but it shouldn't suprise anyone that initiatives of this sort are in the pipeline.

We are calling for a massive national and international effort to slow aging in humans under the premise that by doing so, humanity would reap a series of "Longevity Dividends" -- a gift to humanity from our generation to most current and all future generations. What is new here is the articulation of the "dividends" and the "target". I'll present this idea formally at the World Forum meeting in Oxford on the 15th of this month, but this is just the beginning of our effort to make this happen.

I'd say that by the end of 2007, the more forward-looking segments of the longevity research community will be obtaining fair-sized grants of public money as a result of two years of effort in the political arena.

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