The MPrize for anti-aging research, administered by the Methuselah Foundation, is a research prize. Its goal is to invigorate serious, competitive, goal-oriented and productive anti-aging research by setting targets and rewards for healthy mouse longevity.
The Methuselah Mouse Prize (MPrize), is the premiere effort of the Methuselah Foundation and is being offered to the scientific research team who develops the longest living Mus musculus, the breed of mouse most commonly used in scientific research. Developing interventions which work in mice are a critical precursor to the development of human anti-aging techniques, for once it is demonstrated that aging in mice can be effectively delayed or reversed, popular attitudes towards aging as ‘inevitable’ will no longer be possible. When aging in mice is shown to be ‘treatable’ the funding necessary for a full-line assault on the aging process will be made available. This is the true power of the Methuselah Mouse Prize, to demonstrate a proof of principle, and give hope to the world that decline in function and age-related disease are no longer guarantees, for us, or for future generations, if we work together now.
Research prizes have a long and illustrious history; the typical prize is – like the MPrize – set in the form of a contest with a purse awarded for the attainment of predetermined scientific or technical goals that are presently impossible. In this they different from recognition prizes – such as the Nobel and many others – that are typically awarded for outstanding achievement after the fact. Beyond the MPrize, other past and present research prizes of note include:
- America’s Space Prize
- Ansari X Prize
- DARPA Grand Challenge
- Longitude Prize
- NASA Centennial Challenges
- Orteig Prize
Why award a prize rather than put money into research? Firstly, it allows for the broadest possible range of approaches; you are asking for the diverse ingenuity of the world rather than relying on your own ingenuity to select the approach you will fund. Secondly, far more funding will be devoted to research as a part of competing for the prize than stands in the prize purse. We humans rise to the challenge of a contest, as research prizes have shown over and over again.
Every dollar in the first $1 million first round prize for the DARPA Grand Challenge attracted something like $65 in investment aimed at reaching the Challenge goals. That’s a pretty impressive return on investment:
The defense agency spent $13 million on the race. It estimates competitors laid out four to five times that amount developing their entries, which rely on global positioning satellites as well as a variety of sensors, lasers, radar and cameras to orient themselves and detect and avoid obstacles.
Carnegie Mellon President Jared Cohon said his school’s vehicle cost approximately $3 million, which was contributed by dozens of corporate sponsors.
Ingenuity applies to raising funds for high profile prize competitions too. Multipliers occur at all levels of the process when you harness the basic human desire to move forward and win. So if you want to put your charitable donations where they will make the most difference … then donate to a research prize!