The Need for Visionary Philanthopy in Longevity Science

You might recall Peter Thiel's advocacy for radical philanthropy, akin to venture investing, wherein high risk high reward projects are funded rather than just the same old staid and conservative institutional funding strategies. This sort of visionary philanthropy seems to be the only way we'll see the groundwork for rejuvenation biotechnology funded to the level at which staid conservative funding sources will agree that it was wonderful all along - and then fund it themselves. Here's a different perspective on the same issue of risk, funding, and institutional biases: "The discovery that aging can be delayed in mice is just the kind of experiment one might suppose would be supported by the National Institutes of Health, the government agency that spends $30 billion a year on financing biomedical research. So after Mayo Clinic researchers discovered they could delay degeneration of the tissues in a fast-aging strain of mice by purging senescent cells, they applied to the agency's National Institute on Aging for financing for the next essential step, that of repeating the test in mice with a normal life span. Under the agency's peer review system, panels of fellow experts judge each proposal and assign it a score. On paper, it's hard to think of a better system. But in practice, experts often differ, even on the best proposals, and a single dissenting vote can reduce a proposal's overall score too low to get financed. The Mayo proposal got a less than perfect score, and was denied money. ... Their peer review process is not promoting innovative, high-risk research. ... They were able to get their research started only because private funds were available from the Ellison Medical Foundation, supported by Larry Ellison of the Oracle software company, and from Robert P. Kogod, a philanthropist in Washington. After publication of the Mayo Clinic team's paper in Nature this month, they were approached by the Glenn Foundation, set up by the commodities trader Paul F. Glenn, who has a longstanding interest in aging research. The foundation gave them an unsolicited $60,000 and said it would be around to talk later." You'll recognize a number of those names as supporters of the SENS Foundation.


Comment Submission

Post a comment; thoughtful, considered opinions are valued. New comments can be edited for a few minutes following submission. Comments incorporating ad hominem attacks, advertising, and other forms of inappropriate behavior are likely to be deleted.

Note that there is a comment feed for those who like to keep up with conversations.