Aubrey de Grey, Kevin Perrott, David Chambers and Damian Crowe of the Methuselah Foundation were in the Bay Area this week, advancing the cause of longevity research through a number of fundraising events. Much as the last time I met any of the Foundation folk in person, the week closed with a Saturday gathering of supporters on the topics of strategy, communication, near-term goals and organization. The nuts and bolts of getting things done, and done well, in other words. An eclectic group of folk from venture funding, media, aging research and non-profit interests kept the discussion from falling anywhere near to the normal fate for business topics on a weekend - very entertaining and informative, all in all.
As many of you have no doubt experienced in the past, keeping the wheels turning at best speed in a growing, changing organization is an interesting challenge. This is especially true in the non-profit space, where people are so much more driven by passion, and many of the key resources are volunteers. It is a testament to the intelligence and dedication of the volunteers and supporters of the Methuselah Foundation that they have surmounted each challenge to date, and that the organization continues to move forward apace to new goals in the grand plan.
In any case; it's no big secret that the Methuselah Foundation has until the end of 2009 to make the best of Peter Thiel's generous pledge of a $3 million matching fund. This means the clock is ticking on raising $6 million for SENS research: the combined sum of $9 million will be enough to fund a range of modest research programs, larger versions of those already underway and funded by the Foundation. That would be a good start, but the Foundation could be in a much better financial state than that three years from now if matters are well managed - expansion can be rapid indeed once you've established your credentials and potential for success. The path to growth is there, it just has to be executed on - this is also no big secret.
The prize for success at any level is a bigger, better, more rewarding mountain to climb!
I should point out an event on the Methuselah Foundation schedule from earlier this week hosted by the Alliance for Aging Research. I think it falls into the general spectrum of fundraising - there's much more to that game than knowing how to ask for money. A process of education and building relationships is absolutely essential:
Recent advances that harness the power of genetics, cell metabolism, nutrition and bioinformatics now make human aging itself a credible target for medical treatments. Whether today’s research succeeds in adding incremental years of health and vitality, or makes a quantum leap in human longevity, many believe that interventions will be deployed against aging in time to benefit current generations.
Will future drugs help protect against heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and other diseases by slowing the rate of aging? How will regulators measure the beneficial effects of age-retarding technologies? Will society readily adapt to medical treatments that improve life by a few years, or even by many years? Who are the scientific pioneers poised today on the leading edge?
An intriguing and provocative panel has been selected by Burrill & Company and the non-profit Alliance for Aging Research. You are invited to be among the select audience to hear presentations and pose questions to scientific leaders from two continents.
I'm told it went swimmingly.
There will be more presentations and fundraising events by Aubrey de Grey, other aging researchers supportive of the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence, and the Foundation volunteers in the Bay Area in the months ahead. If you feel you can help make these efforts even more successful, why not contact the Methuselah Foundation and see about getting involved?