A time-honored journalistic strategy is to put two interesting people with disparate views on their field in the same room to see what they have to say. In this case the subject is aging, longevity, and the prospects for extending healthy human life spans. The introductory blurb is quoted below, but the piece is long, with a lot of commentary from the participants - so click through and read the whole thing:
Bortz and de Grey have never met before, but they have a lot to talk about. I've asked them to come to the Tied House today - de Grey from eight blocks away, where his SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence) Research Foundation is headquartered; Bortz from nearby Stanford, where he teaches medicine - to discuss a subject that has obsessed both of them for decades: the process of aging, and how it may change in the decades ahead. Questions about the future of aging have been in the air lately. Are humans on the cusp of living to 120, 130, or more? What will aging look like in this new world of longevity? Will we just be adding 30, 40, 50 years to the end of life, or can we delay the process and lead normal lives to such advanced ages? Is 100 the new 60?
Neither Bortz nor de Grey is a stranger to publicity. A former co-chairman of the American Medical Association's Task Force on Aging and past president of the American Geriatrics Society, Bortz, a physician by training, is one of America's foremost experts on robust aging, having published more than 150 scientific articles on the subject. His "thesis," as he calls it, is that exercise is the key to extending the human life span. "We know enough to live 100 healthy years," Bortz says, "but we screw it up."
De Grey, meanwhile, has been a favorite subject for journalists since the early 2000s. As an undergraduate at Cambridge, he studied computer science; his specialty was artificial intelligence. But soon after graduation, he met and married Adelaide Carpenter, a Cambridge fruit-fly geneticist 19 years his senior, took over the genetics department's drosophila database, and immersed himself in the biology of aging. In 1999, de Grey published The Mitochondrial Free Radical Theory of Aging; a year later, Cambridge awarded him a Ph.D.
De Grey's new theories were grand. He believed that by dividing the diseases of old age into seven categories of cellular and molecular damage, and then by working to conquer each category through as-yet-undeveloped medical technologies, it would be possible to "cure" aging - not to stop it, or to slow it, but to repair and reverse it, the way one would restore an aging automobile, and to live indefinitely as a result. In 2000, de Grey co-founded the Methuselah Foundation, which awarded multimillion-dollar grants to scientists who extended the healthy life span of mice, and in 2009, the organization evolved into SENS, a nonprofit that sponsors and funds scientific rejuvenation research. Its major benefactor is Peter Thiel, the billionaire founder of PayPal.