The email quoted below recently arrived in my in-box from the Methuselah Foundation. The Foundation is now more than ten years old, an organization whose staff, volunteers, and supporters have had a hand in most of the best changes to occur in the aging and longevity science community over that time. The Methuselah Foundation was the original home of SENS research into the repair of aging, prior to spinning off the dedicated SENS Research Foundation, but is now primarily focused on advancing the state of the art in tissue engineering, so as to accelerate progress towards the creation of organs to order. Beyond that all of the networking and advocacy behind the scenes in the research community continues just as it has for a decade. It isn't enough to just suggest things to researchers every now and again or educate the public, though both of these activities are certainly helpful. The world turns on the basis of networking: alliances must be formed, and connections made between funding sources and promising research groups who had no idea the other side existed. In this matter the Foundation has made great strides over the years.
We hope you've been having a productive and satisfying 2014.
If you haven't seen it yet, definitely visit our new Methuselah Foundation blog and let us know what you think. We've been publishing weekly posts, including a primer on the science of organ regeneration and a regenerative medicine news roundup from around the web during April and May.
We've also posted several recent interviews there, with Dr. Alan Russell of Carnegie Mellon, Dr. Takanori Takebe of Yokohama City University, Brock Reeve of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. In the weeks ahead, look out for part 2 of the Brock Reeve piece, a new interview with MIT's Dr. Robert Langer, and more.
Congratulations to Dr. Huber Warner
On May 30th, at the 43rd Annual Meeting of the American Aging Association in San Antonio, Texas, we awarded a $10,000 Methuselah Prize to Dr. Huber Warner for founding the National Institute on Aging's Intervention Testing Program (ITP), a "multi-institutional study investigating treatments with the potential to extend lifespan and delay disease and dysfunction in mice." Dr. Warner is a former program director for the NIA Biology of Aging Program and former Associate Dean of Research for the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota.
According to Kevin Perrott, Executive Director of the Methuselah Prize, "The vision Dr. Warner showed, and his persistence over years of resistance to establish the ITP, is truly worthy of recognition. This program is going to provide not only potential near-term interventions in the aging process, but hard data to support claims of health benefits in a statistically significant manner. Science needs solid foundations on which to base further investigations, and the ITP provides the highest level of confidence yet established."
"I saw lots of papers from grantees of the NIA about slowing down aging and extending lifespan," said Dr. Warner, "but they were rarely backed up and given credibility through testing. Research over the last 25 years has been characterized by great success in identifying genes that play some role in extending the late-life health and longevity of several useful animal models of aging, such as yeast, fruit flies, and mice. The next challenging step is to demonstrate how this information might be used to increase the health of older members of our human populations around the world as they age."
With New Organ, we've been busy growing our partner alliance, garnering endorsements (for example, from the Founding Fellows of the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society), defining criteria for our upcoming heart prize, and working toward an official announcement of our first group of teams participating in the liver prize. We've had good initial interest, with five teams committed so far, and we're currently in dialogue with many more.
The pre-release construction phase of our beautiful marble and granite monument installation in the U.S. Virgin Islands, to honor all of the major donors who are part of the Methuselah 300, will be completed by August. We've got some cool surprises in store, and our goal is to formally dedicate the monument in the first quarter of 2015, during the peak tourist season - with as many of you in attendance as are able!
Finally, don't miss the SENS Research Foundation's upcoming Rejuvenation Biotechnology Conference, taking place on August 21-23 in Santa Clara, CA.
It is good to hear that the New Organ prize initiative continues to gather support and interest. Like many initiatives in the research community it is often hard to see what is actually going on, as much of the important action happens behind the scenes.
For me this email is a reminder that we're halfway through the year already, and so the next time I look up from a keyboard it will likely be nearly a year since the last SENS Research Foundation grassroots fundraising initiative. That was a very spur of the moment affair for me, but nonetheless the community rallied round and raised $100,000 in the last two months of 2013 and January 2014. I would like to do better this year, on matters of organization at least, given that no-one I know has unexpected become stupendously wealthy since January. We may not be millionaires, or at least most of us are not, but our support is nonetheless important and our donations fund real, meaningful projects at the cutting edge of medical biotechnology.
So all things considered it is probably time to start thinking about plans for a round of rejuvenation biotechnology research fundraising starting just a few short months from now.