SENS Research Foundation Raises $5 Million, Largely in Cryptocurrency Donations

I'm pleased to note that the 2017 year end SENS Research Foundation fundraiser raised far more than anyone thought was likely - more than $5 million, in fact. This was due to the generosity of a number of high net worth individuals who committed sizable philanthropic donations from their cryptocurrency holdings. These are exciting times for the treatment of aging as a medical condition! Many thanks are due to those people, and to everyone else who supported the continued work of the SENS Research Foundation staff and associated scientific groups to reverse aging through damage repair. We stand upon the verge of a truly massive revolution in medicine, and it is the philanthropists who will get us there.

SENS Research Foundation 2017 Year End Fundraiser Achieves Over $5 Million in Donations

SENS Research Foundation (SRF), a leading Silicon Valley nonprofit focused on diseases of aging, announced today that it received over $5 Million in donations during its year end fundraising campaign. These donations included $1 Million in Bitcoin from the Pineapple Fund; $1 Million in Bitcoin from an anonymous donor; and $2.4 Million in Ethereum from Vitalik Buterin, the cofounder of Ethereum and Bitcoin Magazine.

"SENS Research Foundation is pleased by the strong support we have received from members of the tech community who are innovative leaders in utilizing cryptocurrency. We appreciate their support and look forward to partnering with them going forward. We are very grateful to all of our donors for their incredible support of our Year End Campaign. Our initial campaign goal was $250,000. We were thrilled to receive over 1400 donations totaling over $5 million in just ten weeks. Achieving this level of donation in such a short period of time shows that the momentum SENS Research Foundation has achieved is continuing to accelerate. We are looking forward to engaging even more of the tech community in our work and to continue to accelerate our progress through the expansion of our research programs. Their support makes this growth possible."

On this topic, I have a pet theory regarding wealth and its use to change the world. Historically, people who became extraordinarily wealthy have done so only after many years of work on projects that they were deeply invested in for the sake of the work, not for the sake of financial reward. Consequently they had no real idea regarding what to do with that wealth, other than to keep on moving forward in the shape that they had carved out for their lives prior to that enrichment. They became one with the process that brought them to where they were. Further, these were usually older people by that point, come to terms with the human condition, more comfortable with the world as it is, not as a younger and more fiery individual would have it be. Not everyone is worn down to acceptance - look at the large-scale, results-oriented philanthropy of Bill Gates, for example - but I think it is definitely the case that vision is often one of the early casualties of aging, and the advent of personal wealth doesn't change that situation for any given individual. For every Bill Gates there are another twenty billionaires who fail to change the world in any significant way beyond the ventures that earned them their fortunes.

Cryptocurrencies, the first application of blockchain technologies, have resulted in a sizable number of people who have become enormously wealthy in a much shorter period of time, and at younger ages, than has typically been the case in the past. Even the dotcom bubble era and its immediate sequels didn't reach these levels of youthful enrichment, and that produced a fair number of people young enough and wealthy enough to set forth to remake sections of the world in the service of loftier agendas. They escaped being shaped by the processes of their enrichment to a great enough degree to retain fire and vision. Consider the willingness to put capital towards world-changing futurist ideals exhibited by Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, Mark Zuckerberg, and Sean Parker, to pick a few. But while that generation of high net worth individuals have certainly supported the life sciences, and in Peter Thiel's case SENS rejuvenation research, they largely haven't followed Thiel's support for the goal of treating aging as a medical condition, and Thiel himself has certain not gone all-in. He hasn't followed the logic further towards its end, in that the only rational use for excess capital in this age is to develop viable treatments to reverse aging. When you can buy time with money, and not just for yourself, but for everyone, then that is the rational thing to do.

The wealthy of the blockchain community may well proceed differently. The times are different, for one, as rejuvenation research after the SENS model of damage repair is more broadly known and accepted nowadays. The technology industry of the Bay Area, still in many ways the spiritual center of modern software engineering and invention, includes a great many supporters of SENS, the Methuselah Foundation, and the SENS Research Foundation, and that number has grown considerably over the past fifteen years. Aging is an engineering problem, SENS is a set of repairs and a set of outlines for repair technologies, and engineers grasp that readily. It isn't a coincidence that there are so many engineers, software and otherwise, to be found participating in the past fifteen years of philanthropy to support progress in rejuvenation research, work based on periodic repair of the cell and tissue damage that causes aging. Now it is the case that many of those engineers in the cryptocurrency space are both young and suddenly wealthy, people who have not been worn down to an acceptance of the world as it is, have not become one with their process of enrichment. They are still willing to consider radical change to the status quo, full of the fire of success, and equipped with sufficient resources to push forward the research and development that they would like to see happen. Exciting times, as I said.


I hope the SENS Foundation can keep pulling the rabbit out of the hat like this for a few more years. At some point they will accumulate enough results to attract wider funding surely. Or maybe this process is underway already.

Obviating mitochondrial DNA damage in a mouse And extending its lifespan could be one with tipping point.

Posted by: Jim at January 17th, 2018 6:06 AM

That is a very astute observation Reason, - the shear number of new, young billionaires is a boon to the visionary projects like SENS that will shape the next century. Let's hope we are all here and healthy to see it!

Posted by: Mark at January 17th, 2018 9:44 AM

well done SENS. its good to see so many investors and philantropists getting on the band wagon. lets hope it gets better in the coming year

Posted by: scott emptage at January 17th, 2018 9:55 AM

I was shocked to see Vitalik Buterin donated so much. That's incredible. Hopefully he can spread the word around that community a little bit, as everything helps.

Posted by: Ham at January 17th, 2018 11:30 AM

@Ham: And I was shocked to see 1400 donations vs 92 donations at giving tuesday.

Posted by: Norse at January 17th, 2018 11:41 AM

Great! We're on the run!

Posted by: Gekki at January 17th, 2018 11:42 AM

The way bitcoin is going those 5 mil will be 5000$ by the end of the week.

Posted by: Anonymoose at January 17th, 2018 12:31 PM

I hope they already sold the cryptocurrencies for $$!

Posted by: Nicolai at January 17th, 2018 2:48 PM

SENS also won the Project 4 Awesome 2017 so this is another 15-30k coming to them soon as well.

Posted by: Steve Hill at January 17th, 2018 2:58 PM

Fantastic news ! Warm thanks to all the donors, big and small !

Hopefully the SRF has already, or will soon convert these donations in electronic currencies into USD.

Posted by: Spede at January 17th, 2018 5:02 PM

Well, on the bright side as far as crypto is concerned, depending on exactly when Vitalik donated that ethereum, it's still probably only gone up in value from the time it was donated. Unless it's been cashed out, then it's moot.

Posted by: Ham at January 17th, 2018 8:12 PM

Great to see that more wealthy people are starting to 'get it'. More of them need to realize that the moment you die, your net worth instantly becomes zero. You lose all your family, all your friends, all your money, all your possessions, all your accumulated knowledge and everything you've worked for. You are no longer a proud and successful member of the human race, you're only a 'thing': a worthless, stinking, putrefying corpse fit only to be buried or burned.

Donate until it hurts to those working to end this horror (such as SENS) or this will very soon be the fate of you, your friends and family as well.

Posted by: John C. at January 17th, 2018 9:31 PM

I think 4-5 million per year is enough to keep the basic SENS RF lab programs chugging along, but some of the recent SENS spin off companies such as Covalent Biosciences or Human Rejuvenation Biotechnologies seem to have hit a second "valley of death" in terms of funding/advancement. They have bare bones websites and no news coming of them for years. If SENS had tens of millions per year in funding maybe they could help get these fledgling companies past whatever technical barriers they have hit?

Posted by: Jim at January 18th, 2018 1:05 AM

Jim: I think that with the advocacy and resources of Jim Mellon and Michael Greve, that will not be a problem for long.

Posted by: Antonio at January 18th, 2018 3:12 AM

Jim wrote: " Covalent Biosciences or Human Rejuvenation Biotechnologies seem to have hit a second "valley of death" in terms of funding/advancement. They have bare bones websites and no news coming of them for years."

This seems to be the same for the site of Solving Organ Shortage (SOS) too. It have been white for months. As a transplant patient of one of the most difficult organs I have donated 1000 NOK of my social security every month to SOS. This is 1/17 of my income. Another 1/17 I donate to Organ Preservation Alliance (OPA). So I hope others both small and large donors can pick it up on the cause.

Posted by: Norse at January 18th, 2018 6:35 AM

When I heard of the large donations in cryptocurrencies to the SENS Foundation, I was tempted to give them a thousand litecoins that our mining pool recently discovered that, in 2016, was just a few thousand bucks not worth the employees' salary to collect out of old wallets. However, I decided against doing so for two reasons.

First, cryptocurrencies are going to appreciate dramatically over the next decade. Would a quarter million dollars now, or five million dollars in five years, be more useful? The five million dollars will also be able to buy more, since technology becomes cheaper over time. Because I'm nearly certain that the world is going to switch over to cryptocurrencies, the amount of research the greater amount of money can do in the future outweighs the delay in research now.

Second, I'm concerned about the distribution of funds of the SENS Foundation. They spend less than 60% of their money on research, with significant amounts of money spent on "outreach" and "fundraising." Some charities, like Penn State's THON, spend more than 90% on the causes. The document the SENS Foundation published on their website at the end of the year didn't really provide me with a good sense of why they are spending so little of their money on research.

I'm hoping that, by the time the next bubble cycle begins, SENS will get those research numbers up or that I'll be able to find another organization that spends more on research.

Posted by: Steve Sokolowski at January 18th, 2018 11:46 AM

@Steve Sokolowski: You can look at the SRF annual reports to see exactly where the money goes in detail:

Their overhead percentage is good. Their non-research categories covers running a conference series, which I consider to be well worth it in terms of what it achieves.

If you want to ensure your donations go to a research program, or even a specific research program, and you are giving a significant amount, then you can just attach that as a condition to your donation. Numerous other people have done that.

Posted by: Reason at January 18th, 2018 1:53 PM

Steve: Given how much Aubrey travels around the world to give his speeches, I think the outreach percentage is sensible. I don't know exactly where the administration funds are spent on.

Posted by: Antonio at January 18th, 2018 1:54 PM

Steve (and any other potential donor of large amounts of crypto), another consideration is that the more crypto is donated, the more this thing snowballs. How about donating some now and some later?

Posted by: Florin Clapa at January 18th, 2018 4:04 PM

In this case, the money is already gone because we decided to spend the quarter million to hire two additional people and expand into bitcoin mining, in addition to the scrypt and x11 mining we already do. As I mentioned above, I figured that obtaining as many cryptocurrencies as possible, by saving them and by investing to earn more, is the best way to make a difference in the world.

But this discussion has given me a thought about being able to give money to charity more quickly. I wonder if Reason would be willing to work with us to generate publicity for the site if we added a new "coin" to our selection list of payout coins of "donation to the SENS Foundation." Right now, people can be paid in bitcoins, bitcoin cash, litecoins, monero, dollars, etc. We could add a new item so that people could set their payout proportions to, say, 99% dash and 1% donations to the Foundation. It could replace the "Tips for Chris" option, as you can see on our site at, since we are fortunate enough to no longer need tips.

We currently pay out about $250,000 per day, so if we could get 1/3 of people to assign 1% of their mining profits to the Foundation, that would direct $1k/day their way. Once we expand into bitcoin mining, we expect to pay out $1m/day, which, if the same donation rate holds, would be a rate of $1m/year to the Foundation or any other charities we add, since some customers would probably prefer donating elsewhere. I don't know of any other pools that allow people to mine to charity, so this would draw customers as well.

I had always thought that I would have to wait until we were very wealthy to give money away, but it would be interesting to see if miners would allow the business itself to funnel a significant portion of its revenue to charities.

Posted by: Steve Sokolowski at January 19th, 2018 7:11 AM

@Steve: I certainly couldn't direct enough attention to you to make it worthwhile to do that from a straight cost-benefit point of view; if you did it, it would be for philanthropic reasons. Also, anything that looks like advertising is not on the Fight Aging! agenda.

What you propose sounds like an interesting experiment; are there really no other pools out there in the cryptocurrency space that are set up for philanthropy in this way?

Certainly, for causes like SENS no-one has to wait to be wealthy to make a difference. For one funding meaningful early stage life science research is a low-cost endeavor these days, and secondly the volume of small donations serves a very important role, drawing attention to a cause and leading the way for high net worth donors. They always follow the crowd.

Posted by: Reason at January 19th, 2018 9:05 AM

After reading an article about how some dodgy websites were using their visitors browsers and electricity to mine crypto-currencies, I wondered if someone could set up a mining program such that rather than donating cash to SENS/LEAF people could just donate their computers time and some electricity? Much like they can for Rosetta@Home and folding proteins.

Yes it is probably more efficient for people to donate cash rather than electricity and clock cycles, but then people are not often very rational.

Posted by: Jim at January 19th, 2018 9:33 AM

@Jim: that's what I was proposing - giving people the opportunity to automatically direct a portion of their mining profits to a charity. We've already found that people are surprisingly generous at giving donations to us, but we don't need the money anymore. I think that people are more willing to give this way because they never own this money, whereas money that is paid to them through working at a job and then deducted from their bank accounts later seems more real to them.

I understand Reason's reasons for not wanting to do this with his site, but I'm still going to send out messages to charities in other fields to see if I can one of them might be willing to do this sort of partnership. We can make them the exclusive charity for some period of time, and they in exchange bring customers to us - a win-win for everyone. Plus, since anyone who uses the term "blockchain" nowadays seems to get lots of attention, the mere fact that they talked about cryptocurrency might be of great benefit to them.

Posted by: Steve Sokolowski at January 23rd, 2018 3:47 PM

Steve, how about just inciting your customers to donate to the SENS Research Foundation (SRF) ? No strings attached to your business - people would do it on their own volition.

Every year the SRF runs donation campaigns with matching funds ; at such times you could inform your customers that it's the best time to help the Foundation and incidently invest in their own future.

Also you might want to unilaterally implement that function in your website which'd automatically redirect 1% of the mining profits to the SRF's BTC wallet.

In either cases it wouldn't be the two-way promotion you're looking after, but still, it sure would help the rejuvenation field advance in its quest to repair our bodies. I can't think of a more critical foundation than the SRF towards which redirect 1k USD per day.

Posted by: Spede at January 23rd, 2018 5:03 PM
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