In the past few years Jim Mellon, high net worth investor and philanthropist, has put in a great deal of time and effort to help push forward the development of a biotech industry focused on intervention in human aging. He has donated to non-profits in the aging research space, set up aging-focused conference series, founded and raised funding for a sizable biotech company in the space, invested in other biotech startups personally, and in general has been very personable and helpful to his fellow travelers and advocates. Would that there were more people with the resources and will to dive into advancing the state of the field in this way.
How does an idea that is too unconventional for mainstream channels get funded? Today, the concept of longevity research is rapidly gaining adoption, but it wasn't long ago that angel investors and the rare NIH grant were the only options for people fighting for increased longevity. Longevity enthusiasts are likely to know names like Peter Thiel, Dmitry Itskov, J. Craig Venter, Sergey Brin, Larry Ellison, and Jeff Bezos for their personal contributions, both as philanthropists and investors. Among angel investors, Jim Mellon was one of the earliest adopters of longevity research. While his fortune has come from various other sectors, he founded Mann Bioinvest, published Cracking the Code, and started praising the healthy longevity strategy back in 2012. With all the progress and setbacks of the last decade, Jim remains optimistic about the field, recently claiming that the world is on the brink of three major revolutions, with increased longevity being one of them.
In biotech, Jim Mellon is most well-known for his role in Juvenescence, which is both a book he authored on biotech investment and a longevity company he co-founded. Juvenescence has its hand in tissue regeneration and cell therapy approaches to healthy longevity via AgeX Therapeutics and LyGenesis. While still at the preclinical stage, LyGenesis has been perhaps the most successful tissue engineering and regenerative medicine company thus far. Separately from Juvenescence, Jim Mellon also played a role as chairman of Regent Pacific during its acquisition of AI firm Deep Longevity last year. He's also invested in Repair Biotechnologies and various other companies outside the scope of Juvenescence.
Beyond his investments, Jim Mellon has also made various donations to longevity nonprofits in recent years, including the UCL Institute of Healthy Ageing, Methuselah Foundation, and SENS Research Foundation, among others. In 2020, he donated £1 million to Oriel College in order to support and advance the study of Longevity Science at Oxford University, the largest donation of its kind.
For better or worse, high-net-worth individuals are imperative to the translation of treatments from the bench to bedside. While some media organizations make negative comments that billionaires are simply attempting to buy their own immortality without regard for anyone else's health, these concerns are largely overblown. Overall, few people have done as much to increase human longevity as Jim Mellon. Beyond putting up his own capital, he's also played a major role in convincing others to do the same, thereby accelerating longevity research and moving us towards a healthier future.