The Longer Life Foundation

The Longer Life Foundation is an example of one of the conservative funding sources in aging research; it is similar to the Ellison Medical Foundation in choices of which research to fund and the public face of the organization. Nothing that will rock the boat, in other words, or appear to be advocating near-future longevity engineering in humans. This describes much of the funding landscape, sadly, which is how the Glenn Foundation can look like a force for change by comparison, simply by talking about extending the healthy human life span in the context of funding mainstream aging research.

From the Longer Life Foundation website:

The Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, funds research that has immediate and practical applications for health promotion and for the assessment of longevity trends. ... The Foundation will study the scientific and social factors that help predict longevity and wellness in selected populations, domestically and internationally. ... Findings will be published for the benefit of the entire medical community, to help improve human health and longevity. ... The Longer Life’s mission is to study factors that assist in predicting mortality and morbidity of selected populations and to research methods to promote improvements in longevity and health by analyzing the effects of changes in medicine and advances in public health practices.

A recent university press article gives an idea as to the sort of research funded by the Foundation:

Over the last 10 years, the foundation has awarded more than $2 million to [Washington University]. This most recent group of grants provides a total of $279,000, and each grant award totals between $26,000 and $75,000.

Grant renewals were awarded to John O. Holloszy, MD, professor of medicine, and Luigi Fontana, MD, PhD, research associate professor of medicine, for the "Longer Life Foundation Longevity Research Program," a project comparing key functions in people who practice calorie restriction with the same bodily functions in normal weight individuals and in endurance athletes.

Also receiving a second year of funding was Shin-ichiro Imai, MD, PhD, associate professor of developmental biology and of medicine, for a project entitled "Diagnostic and Therapeutic Applications of a Novel Plasma Metabolite, Nicotinamide Mononucleotide (NMN), for Age-Associated Metabolic Complications in Humans." Another renewal went to Ravi Rasalingam, MD, assistant professor of medicine, for the project "Novel Methods for Detection of Coronary Artery Disease in Diabetic Patients," which is looking at the feasibility of using of sound waves to detect blocked blood vessels as a screening tool for people with diabetes who are at risk for coronary heart disease.

New grants this year went to Marco Colonna, MD, professor of pathology and immunology and of medicine, for the project "Does Caloric Restriction Slow Aging of the Human Immune System?"

There are a good few years of research results to suggest that calorie restriction does indeed slow the age-related degeneration of the human immune system. As you might have gathered from the list of awards above, Washington University is one of the research centers most involved in modern calorie restriction research. It is one of the host universities for the CALERIE study program, for example.

CALERIE (Comprehensive Assessment of Long-term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy) is a trial currently underway in the U.S. to study the effects of prolonged calorie restriction on healthy human subjects. The CALERIE study is being carried out at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University (Boston, Massachusetts) and the Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis, Missouri).
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