Those folk new to the Methuselah Foundation community, healthy life extension or the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence might not realize that it is only very recently that scientists have felt able to talk seriously about tackling age-related degeneration. For the longest time it has been the case that discussing therapies for aging was the “instant death third rail of grantsmanship” as one researcher wittily put it. Funding in science is a very conservative process, taking place within a very conservative culture; aging research is no exception.
We at the Methuselah Foundation like to think that Foundation initiatives – powered by the generosity of our donors – have moved the boundaries of the discussion in the past few years. In this, we have helped to provide cover for scientists in the gerontology community to say openly what they have been willing to say in private all along – that science can defeat aging, and we should get started as soon as possible. The first step on any road is to be able to talk about the destination without risk of censure – it is a shame that is has taken so long and so much effort to get to this point.
On that note, the Longevity Dividend symposium in Washington DC – engineered by scientists and advocates S. Jay Olshansky, Daniel Perry, Richard A. Miller, and Robert N. Butler – is coming up on the 12th of this month. This is one of a number of initiatives that I cannot see having taken place even a few years ago.
The times they are a-changing, and for the better.