$360,000 Given or Pledged to SENS Rejuvenation Research at the End of 2016

The last SENS rejuvenation research fundraiser of 2016 ended a couple of days ago, with the donations from hundreds of supporters going to the SENS Research Foundation in order to support ongoing scientific programs aimed at bringing an end to aging. Aging is a medical condition with root causes, just like any other, and effectively addressing those causes will allow degenerative aging to brought under control, halted, and reversed. That is the difference between the medicine of yesterday, which didn't have any great impact on the causes of aging, and the medicine of tomorrow, which will. Still, it isn't a sure thing for any specific time frame: most of the relevant areas of research, and the researchers involved, need a lot of help to overcome the technical hurdles and lack of funding endemic in early stage scientific endeavors. That is why we need organizations like the SENS Research Foundation, working to remove roadblocks and fund the areas of great scientific promise, but that are largely neglected by the mainstream. It is why we need grassroots, popular support for rejuvenation research, both to sustain these organizations and to light the way - with donations, discussion, and advocacy - for the more conservative wealthy philanthropists and foundations involved in the support of medical research. The more we help ourselves in the matter of aging research, the more additional help will arrive.

I'm pleased to note that, thanks to the many generous donors and those who put up challenge funds to match donations, $300,000 was raised in the main fundraiser over the course of November and December: $150,000 from donors and $150,000 from a matching fund provided by the Forever Healthy Foundation. In addition a little over $60,000 was pledged as monthly donations to be made over the next year by new SENS Patrons: $30,000 from donors and $30,000 from a challenge fund assembled by Josh Triplett, Christophe and Dominique Cornuejols, and Fight Aging! The SENS Research Foundation hasn't yet updated their site for the last minute donations from December 31st, but those numbers won't change too much. This is on top of the $70,000 raised through a crowdfunding project earlier in the year to support the OncoSENS work: scanning for drug candidates capable of suppressing alternative lengthening of telomeres, which is one half of a universal cancer therapy based on blockade of telomere lengthening. Of course, SENS Project|21 also launched in 2016, founded with a $10 million pledge from Michael Greve of the Forever Healthy Foundation. All in all it was a banner year for SENS Research Foundation funding. The enthusiastic support of our community over the years has helped build up to this, one donation, one act of advocacy, one conversation at a time. Every contribution helps, and many hands make light work.

For my part, while we didn't hit the $72,000 goal for SENS Patron pledges, the amount contributed and the number of people willing to sign up for monthly donations ensures that we'll be trying this again. Patronage is of course as old as science, and the SENS Research Foundation is definitely powered by the patronage of wealthier individuals like Aubrey de Grey, Peter Thiel, and Jason Hope. Until last year, however, the SENS Research Foundation fundraisers didn't do much with the newer crowdfunded patronage models for philanthropy by everyday individuals: collaborating to support the sciences with many modest donations. There is precedent. The very successful Methuselah 300 group provided the funds needed for much of the early success of the Methuselah Foundation, but that initiative stayed with the Methuselah Foundation when SENS rejuvenation research spun off into the SENS Research Foundation, even though the 300 donations continue to fund SENS research programs as they did before the split. I'd like to see some of that recaptured in the form of SENS Patrons, hundreds of people making a meaningful difference not just with their donations, but also because they are a very visible sign of material support and enthusiasm. The phenomenon known as social proof is a significant factor in whether wealthier philanthropists commit to an organization. Much as we'd like everyone to be perfectly rational about aging and rejuvenation research, those with the most to give are also the most conservative in the causes they support. They usually follow the crowd, or to be more charitable, rely on the analysis provided by the members of that crowd.

In any case, onward and upward! The trajectory of these fundraisers is heading upward if you look at the history: $60,000 in 2013, $150,000 in 2014, $250,000 in 2015, $360,000 in 2016. In each of these years, I can honestly say I had no idea how to reach that target; it seemed at the time an impossible mountain. Yet you, the readership here at Fight Aging! and the broader community beyond, rose to the challenge. Only this year were there times when it seemed donor exhaustion had set in, and generous individuals stepped in at several points to kickstart things with a timely five-figure donation. There is only so much that any one community can give in support of even the most vital cause without first growing in size; all along, bringing the ideas of rejuvenation biotechnology to new audiences, to gain new supporters, was as much the point as raising funds in these initiatives. This is still the case. So something to add to your resolutions for 2017: talk to someone new about the SENS Research Foundation and the prospects for reversing aging in our lifetime. You never know where it might lead.

Comments

Outstanding news! I was proud to be part of that fundraising effort. Now I am back to lifespan.io to raise enough to launch this synthetic biology senolytic :)

Posted by: Steve Hill at January 2nd, 2017 5:14 PM

I was actually looking for figures on the latest SENS funding campaign today, so thank you Reason for providing us with this detailed account.

The FAQ / infographics that LEAF is working on should facilitate the word spreading during this upcoming year.

Posted by: Spede at January 2nd, 2017 5:20 PM

Great job to all those who helped!

Posted by: Ekaterinya Vladinakova at January 2nd, 2017 6:28 PM

Glad to hear it. Hope things continue on their upward trajectory.

On an unrelated note, I do wonder if Peter Thiel's position as one of Trump's biggest allies will lead to any upside for anti-aging research when the new administration comes in?

Posted by: KC at January 2nd, 2017 9:33 PM

I was wrong about the numbers not changing all that much. The final total was $378,000 for the main fundraiser, plus $64,000 for the SENS Patron pledges over the next year.

Posted by: Reason at January 4th, 2017 3:23 PM

Wow, impressive!! So, counting the OncoSENS fundraiser, it was around half a million this year!!

I contributed as a patron when the campaign started, but had to withdraw in December as I was low in cash, but I think I can contribute again from March.

Posted by: Antonio at January 4th, 2017 4:36 PM

The SRF currently says "over 228 000 USD" for the winter fundraiser, although these aren't final numbers. But you got the number of 378k ?

Posted by: Spede at January 4th, 2017 4:39 PM

Spede: 228,000 + 150,000 = 378,000

Posted by: Antonio at January 4th, 2017 4:51 PM

Oh so the SRF numbers didn't count the matching grant... I was confused, though it should have been obvious. Gracias Antonio.

Posted by: Spede at January 4th, 2017 6:04 PM

Nice. I've always wanted to get a feeling of the speed of progress in the field of rejuvenation biotechnology since I've heard of it a few weeks ago. Let's do some maths here:

1. The progress in the field is currently limited by the budget. I've read that many times and that's actually good news as it means there's no technological limit yet.

2. Money is usually attracted by the reported success or let's call it publicity.

This is very much the definition of an exponential trajectory like moore's law. How fast does it get? Using your data as a metric and fitting an exponential to it you get a doubling in 13 months or approximately once per year. So if you can get the word out fast enough then fasten your seat belts please, the next 10 years might be surprising.

Posted by: Matthias F at January 5th, 2017 8:03 AM

Thank you for this helpful update, Reason! Well written summary! I am glad to have been a part of this global number, although I would surely love to have been one of the four digit matching grant contributors. I encourage both SENS contributions and checking out the RAADfest.com site to see if you can attend this amazing event in 2017. Hope to see some of you there!
Rudi Hoffman

Posted by: Rudi Hoffman at January 9th, 2017 8:19 AM

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