In addition to funding and coordinating research into rejuvenation biotechnology, the SENS Foundation runs an Academic Initiative program that aims to pull more people into the field at an early stage in their life science careers. We must all bear in mind that turning the vision of ways to repair the biological damage of aging into the reality of suitable therapies will be the work of several decades in the best of circumstances. We have a very clear vision of the path ahead and what needs to be done in detail to repair an old human or prevent a young human from becoming old - but it will still require decades to achieve the end goal. The fastest plausible path to this future starts with a crash program that burns $1 billion in ten years to achieve rejuvenation in mice, but the research community is far from being able to deploy even a fraction of that level of resources and determination. Work proceeds slowly and there is a lot of work to do.
Given that we are looking at 20 to 30 years passing between now and widespread first generation methods of limited age-reversal, it is important to put effort towards ensuring that there will be a growing, enthusiastic research community in the years ahead. Hence the Academic Initiative: building connections, guiding younger life scientists, and encouraging the best to work on the defeat of degenerative aging. In this vein, I see that the SENS Foundation is making a small number of grants for 2012 as a part of the Academic Initiative. Young and interested life scientists in the audience might want to take note:
The SENS Foundation Academic Initiative is pleased to announce that it will be awarding up to $30,000 in materials grants in 2012. These grants are available to undergraduate, graduate, and medical students, and may be used to cover the cost of laboratory materials for aging- and rejuvenation-related research projects. A typical grant will range from $500-$2000, but grants of up to $5000 may be awarded for group projects. These grants are meant to provide students with valuable experience in research and leadership, and to help set recipients on the course to a career in SENS-related research. As such, simple and straightforward "introductory-level" projects will receive full consideration.
The grant application can be found here. You can apply at any time. There may be a high level of competition, so students are encouraged to apply soon.
As the SENS Foundation grows in budget, so too will these long term payoff activities. The primary hurdles within the scientific community that stand in the way of progress towards enhanced human longevity and the reversal of aging are (a) lack of funding, and (b) lack of researchers who are interesting and enthused. Both of these points need fixing, and in both cases that's the long bootstrapped road of incremental progress.