I'm pleased to see that the Immortality Institute / Longecity has completed fundraising for their latest project, an investigation of the potential benefits of microglia transplants in the aging brain:
After months of fundraising we are now delighted to announce that the project has started! Through many donations large and small, the community has raised sufficient funds to initiate the project. Last month, we passed the 80% mark and knew that full success would only be a matter of time. Then, something amazing happened: though promoting this effort, a far sighted investor has stepped forward who can see the potential in developing this research project. The angel [committed] a substantial contribution towards a research arm that is closely aligned to the project LongeCity is funding. Thus, we have achieved something amazing together: every dollar donated to this life extension research project has not only been doubled through internal funds but multiplied manifold! Few people, especially those with very limited personal means, who want to invest in life extension would find such effective opportunities to make a real difference.
Which is good news all round. I've mentioned this effort in past months, so you can head on back into the archives for more details on the funded research. We live in an age in which a large range of meaningful early-stage work in biotechnology can be performed for comparatively little money - a few tens of thousands of dollars, or less. A single young researcher with lab access can validate theories, determine whether a line of research has promise, or make new connections in a field - and all in a matter of a few months to half a year of work, as one of a number of ongoing projects.
Most importantly, the new reality of low costs means that people of everyday means can band together in small associations to fund the research that they find important, on a project by project basis. This sort of grassroots, bottom-up organization is greatly aided by the internet, but crowdsourced philanthropy for science in detail is only just in its infancy. Projects like those undertaken by the Immortality Institute volunteers are the first signs of the true future of research funding - a detailed and glorious patchwork in which everyone can pick and choose the exact projects they wish to fund, and in doing so learn more about the science behind the causes they support.
Another sign of progress in this direction is the creation of dedicated crowdsourced scientific philanthropy initiatives like FundScience, which has actually been around for a couple of years, and will be holding a meetup on July 15th in the Bay Area:
FundScience was formed to get the public invested in science. We aim to accomplish two goals:
1. Provide a way for scientists and researchers to self fund their research by crowd funding.
2. Bring people closer to science by providing an insight into research activities done across the globe.
In addition to staying in touch with scientific activity via FundScience.org , we are launching monthly meetups to give you an opportunity to get to know your favorite researchers in person. Come find out how you can be a part of their amazing work.
I co-founded FundScience a few years ago with the hope of getting the public invested in science. We had two goals when we began. The first was to get much needed funding and guidance to young researchers. The other was to get non-scientists to interact with researchers and understand the research process. Our first round of projects was selected and posted on the site late last year. In keeping with our goal of bringing science to the masses we've decided to complement our online presence with a monthly meetup were we can get researchers to discuss their advancements and get non-scientists to come and ask questions, interact and fund some projects.
There are a fair number of philanthropic ventures that help funnel dollars from many donors to worthy causes, such as Philanthroper for example, but still very few ventures that take the next step of breaking things down into fine-grained projects. Much of the wall between the broader charitable public and the details of the work they support is, I feel, unnecessary. The faster it evaporates the better off we'll all be.