As a part of their Sunday Evening Update series, the Immortality Institute folk recently interviewed biomedical gerontologist Aubrey de Grey. This comes after the recent launch of the SENS Foundation, spinning off the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) research efforts previously conducted under the auspices of the Methuselah Foundation.
From the discussion thread:
One of the most interesting things I learned is that Aubrey will not be involved with [the Methuselah Foundation] much at all, only with the SENS foundation. He confirmed that MFURI will become SFURI (SENS Foundation Undergraduate Research Initiative). He said the biggest advances he has seen in the last year or so have come from stem cell therapies.
He admitted to being surprised that the Theil donation did not spur other big donors to come forward. They are going to try to generate some revenue in the future through licensing of IP instead of exclusively through donations. SENS is going to partner with a lab in Germany quite soon, but he could not say which one as of yet (they still have to sign the paperwork).
I think we were all expecting greater things to result from the large donation made by entrepreneur turned venture capitalist Peter Thiel, in terms of further accelerating a sea change in opinion amongst philanthropists in any case. Of course, the research funded by that donation has produced progress, as Aubrey de Grey remarks in an open letter at the SENS Foundation site. As I noted a few months back, the matching portion of the Thiel donation expires at the end of this year - with much fundraising yet to go to hit the mark.
Ultimately, you find out how fast things can go by trying them out. Looking at matters in a broader perspective, the Methuselah Foundation and its donors have raised more than $10 million since 2005. Back in the 1990s, comparable organizations with comparable messages were struggling to raise $100,000 over a similar time frame. The tide for engineered longevity is rising, lifting all boats with it, just not as fast as we'd like.
The masses, and the wealthy philanthropists amongst them, largely continue to march towards aging and death, locked into the view that their lives must be like the lives of their parents and grandparents. The only way to turn things around is to keep walking against that flow, making noise, and persuading more people to do the sane thing and join us. It's never going to be as fast as we'd like it to be, but progress is being made.