Insight into the State of Funding for Aging Research

Aging research is the poor cousin of the life science field, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of the harm brought to humanity through disease, frailty, and death is basically caused by aging. Work on extending life or reversing aging is in turn the poor cousin in the aging research family. This situation must change for the better if we are to see meaningful progress in our lifetimes.

A recent article puts some numbers to the picture, here for the Buck Institute, which is one of the largest mainstream laboratories specializing in aging research.

In this fiscal year, the institute will receive about $23 million in government grants, about 66 percent of its $35 million budget. The institute will also get about $5.6 million from the Marin Community Foundation - down from close to $8 million before the economic downturn - and about $5 million from individual and corporate donations.

Compare that with the SENS Foundation, which is currently running a with a yearly budget of a little over $1 million, and is completely reliant on philanthropic donations.

These are small numbers when considered against the broader field of medical research and development. They reflect a society that has not yet woken up to decide that repair of aging is in fact both a possibility and a priority. The feedback loop of education from scientists to the public and support from the public to scientists isn't yet running well for longevity science - it is running better than it was a decade ago, but clearly there is much work to be done.

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