Aubrey de Grey is the co-founder of the SENS Research Foundation and the originator of SENS, the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence. To my eyes SENS is the most important of present initiatives aimed at producing treatments for degenerative aging: de Grey has led the production of a work of synthesis, drawing together important research from widely disparate reaches of the medical research community, produced by researchers often unaware of the relevance of their work to aging or the efforts of scientists in unrelated fields. The sum of this joined research supports (a) the identification of specific forms of cellular and molecular damage as the causes of aging, and (b) sound and detailed research plans for the production of means to repair this damage, and thereby reverse the effects of degenerative aging.
Synthesis is an often overlooked and important activity in the sciences: someone has to survey the diverse strands of progress in a field as complex as medicine, draw the connections that are rarely apparent to researchers at the cutting edge, deeply immersed as they are in advancing their own narrow but deep specialties. It isn't just a matter of joining puzzle pieces, however. Synthesis also means establishing ties between researchers who will benefit from an exchange of knowledge, but would not have become aware of one another without outside intervention. All fields of science go through periods of fragmentation and exploration, accompanied by a rapid expansion in knowledge, but this also tends to create divides of mutual ignorance and lack of communication between specialties. This is only natural: there are only so many hours in the day, and no one person can know everything there is know about what thousands of researchers in hundreds of laboratories are up to. Thus forming the foundations for the next phase of development in medical science requires initiatives that focus on synthesis, networking, and review: building connections and identifying which pieces of the puzzle join together.
Aubrey de Grey is of course only one of the more visible folk involved in the work of the SENS Research Foundation. There are scores of researchers and other people in a broad network involved in creating better odds for the development of rejuvenation therapies in our future, which is not to mention the thousands of donors who have helped to raise millions of dollars to fund the initial stages of research. As in all such initiatives someone has to be the visible spokesperson, to raise awareness and present the goal of defeating aging to a public that is only just starting to think of this as a possibility.
Here are a couple of recent interviews with de Grey; one audio podcast from Radio New Zealand, and a video from the St. Gallen Symposium in Switzerland.
English author and theoretician in the field of gerontology, and the Chief Science Officer and co-founder of the SENS Research Foundation. Duration: 45′ 58″.
Aubrey de Grey (GB), Chief Science Officer & Co-Founder, SENS Research Foundation. Topic Leader: Stephen Sackur (GB) Presenter HARDtalk, BBC Broadcasting House.