In a recent LiveScience article on Aubrey de Grey, the MPrize for anti-aging research and the SENS Challenge, Methuselah Foundation co-founder Dave Gobel neatly encapsulated the reason behind a prominent quirk in the MPrize structure.
The MPrize has been divided into two prizes since launch in 2003; the names have changed with time, but they are presently known as the Longevity and Rejuvenation prizes.
A fund exists to provide the money for the Longevity and Rejuvenation prizes. This fund is open to contributions from anyone; donors can contribute to either or both prizes as they see fit.
The Longevity Prize is won whenever the world record lifespan for a mouse of the species most commonly used in scientific work, Mus musculus, is exceeded. The amount won by a winner of the Longevity Prize is in proportion to the size of the fund at that time, but also in proportion to the margin by which the previous record is broken.
The Rejuvenation Prize rewards successful late-onset interventions and has been instituted so as to satisfy two shortcomings of the Longevity Prize: first, that it is of limited scientific value to focus on a single mouse (a statistical outlier), and second, that the most important end goal is to promote the development of interventions to restore youthful physiology, not merely to extend life.
Donors have always had the free choice of which prize to bolster. Without any prompting from the organizers and volunteers, the vast majority of donated funds have been applied to the Rejuvenation Prize. Dave Gobel sums up why this is so:
People who happen to be alive want to be fixed.