The SENS Research Foundation, alongside its parent organization the Methuselah Foundation, is one of the most important scientific non-profits in the world today. These organizations are undertaking seed research, engaging in persistent advocacy, and organizing conferences to steer the scientific and funding communities onto the best paths to produce the toolkit of therapies and biotechnologies needed to achieve human rejuvenation. This means building ways to repair the catalog of cell and tissue damage that causes age-related fraity and disease, and thus reverse its progression. The goal is old age without pain, without suffering, without any loss of health and vigor, and given the right strategies in research and development, this is a practical goal for the decades ahead.
The SENS Research Foundation has a tiny budget for an organization that seeks to profoundly change the world for the better: entirely funded by philanthropic donations at $5 million each year. It is never the intent that the SRF staff and associated researchers do everything themselves, however. The point of the exercise is to steer other funds and other scientific groups towards the best possible lines of research by demonstrating their worth, and by making sure that everyone in the scientific community knows about past demonstrations carried out elsewhere. Does this really work at this sort of funding level, however? The answer is a resounding hell yes it works, even if more is always better.
If you have been paying attention for the past decade you'll notice that these days there are several lines of SENS research that are spreading out and being picked up by people with deeper pockets. Senescent cell clearance has had its arrival year this year, with a great technology demonstration of improved healthspan in aging mice. Similar the targeting of telomere extension as the common mechanism in all cancer is a SENS approach that now has some people in the mainstream research community working on a variety of initiatives, while the SENS Research Foundation in-house efforts are respectfully covered by the popular science media.
Ten years ago, the people who publicly proposed exactly this research were mocked, and all too many scientists avoided talking about extending healthy human life by treating the causes of aging. Now it is a very different story. All those community fundraisers in the past, all of the advocacy, all of the grassroots efforts? They pay off. Not immediately, because it takes years to make things happen. But we can clearly see the results arriving now. There are yet more areas of SENS research that need to have their day in the sun, however, which is why we must double down and keep on trucking. We're starting to win the game in earnest, the wheel is moving, the avalanche started, so why stop here?
The SENS Research Foundation in fact probably gets more media attention than your average non-profit of its size, and justifiably so. Nowhere near enough media attention, I'd say. Research into repairing the causes of aging needs to be right up there in the public conversation alongside cancer research, and the funding should be much the same. That is a thing to aim for, and the sooner we get there the better the prospects for a future that doesn't involve sickness and decline. Here are a couple of recent items covering the SENS Research Foundation and its staff:
Tucked away in a small office in the heart of Silicon Valley, the SENS research foundation is engaged in the cutting-edge work of rejuvenation biotechnology. They experiment with preservation of the cell and, more specifically, the powerhouse of the cell: the mitochondria.
With donations primarily from philanthropists, SENS operates on a US$5million annual budget that founders consider a drop in the bucket compared to what is spent on healthcare. SENS's approach is still a long away from being used on people, as it would likely need testing on animals first before being incorporated in human gene therapy, a technique also still under study.
WiMN: You're currently the Global Outreach Coordinator for SENS Research Foundation. How has your experience as a singer and composer helped you with this role?
MEA: As you can probably tell I can't stay on just one thing. I've always had this unstoppable curiosity since I was a little girl, and science has been one of my other big passions. SENS Research Foundation is a non-profit organization located in the Bay Area, working to develop new therapies to prevent, reverse and eradicate the diseases of aging. As we age we accumulate damage at a cellular and molecular level, that happens since we are born.
This damage or "junk" as we call it, doesn't bother us much until we start getting older. When the amount of waste crosses a certain threshold it starts affecting the functions in our body and we get sick. If we live long enough, in the way medicine is today, we will get at least one age related disease (cancer, Alzheimer's, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson's, etc) if not several, and if we don't die of something else before, this is what will eventually kill us.
At SRF we have a roadmap to get aging under medical control. These strategies (Strategies Engineered for Negligible Senescence) were designed by biogerontologist Dr. Aubrey de Grey, a very prominent scientist from Cambridge, U.K., who co-founded the organization and is our Chief Science Officer. He wrote the book Ending Aging where he explains the seven types of damage that make us age and how we can tackle them using regenerative medicine. This is what we work on.
My work as the Global Outreach Coordinator is mainly development and fund raising. I focus on creating new relationships, bringing high net worth Individuals onboard. I do celebrity outreach, organize events, and anything that will help create awareness and raise funds to push the research and the development of treatments forward. These cures will happen, it is just a matter of time, and the more funding we get the faster it will happen. The fact that I've been in the music/entertainment business for so long helped me build a huge network of people and this is how I can do my job doing outreach for the organization, it is all about making connections and expanding our network.