Fundraising efforts in the final weeks of 2007 here at the Methuselah Foundation were nothing short of amazing. Thank you all! The donations poured in, two matching challenges were met, our wealthier backers have stepped up to the plate once more, and the ability of the Foundation to reach its goals in 2008 has grown considerably.
We wanted to provide a view of this recent fundraising for all supporters of the Methuselah Foundation – and of our work on the Mprize for longevity science and Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) research – so we’ve pulled together a list of the high points, and an overview of where these new resources will be put to use. As you’ll see below, we all have reason to be impressed and excited by growing support for our vital mission: repair the damage of aging and extend all our healthy lives. In no particular order:
- Bill Liao has contractually pledged a donation of $650,000 payable monthly at around $9,000 per month for the next 6 years!
- Alex Zhavoronkov has donated 67,500 shares in Mediox, an up and coming media company, to join the soon-to-be-formed “1% For Life” donor group.
- Long time supporters Gary and Anne Hudson of HMX donated $30,000 for continued support of SENS. They have backed the Foundation since its inception.
- The Leon Strauss Foundation donated $3,000 for general expenses.
- Alcor, cryonics provider and solid pillar of the pro-longevity community, donated $2,000 to the Mprize fund.
- We received $8,000 from a long-time donor to kick off the LysoSENS A2E research.
- The Immortality Institute donated $2,000 to become a sponsor of our upcoming 2008 conference – more to be announced later on that topic.
- Brad Armstrong continued his 10-fold Three Hundred commitments – $250,000 over the next 25 years – with a $10,000 donation for research.
- Constant supporter Michael Cooper donated a $25,000 matching challenge that was filled almost as soon as it was posted.
- Mr. and Mrs. Doug Arends contributed $25,000 as another matching challenge grant to SENS research – and this challenge was also met, in record time and before the New Year rolled in.
- Paul Glenn, the force behind the Glenn Foundation and the Paul F. Glenn Laboratories for the Biological Mechanisms of Aging, donated $25,000 for unrestricted use. This is a real vote of confidence from a mover and shaker in the field of aging research.
- Researcher Lorraine Grace contributed $10,000 – an important example of support from the academic community.
- Ryan Scott made a binding contractual pledge for $100,000 payable in June of ’08
- An anonymous zillionaire donated $5,000 – five times more than his or her last donation. We hope to convince this interested donor to steepen the trajectory and come out of the shadows real soon.
- Not least by far, we received the $167,000 annual donation for research from Peter Thiel and $50,331.40 from Peter T. for 3rd quarter 2007 matching.
- And NEVER to be forgotten are the ever-increasing numbers of modest donations streaming in constantly, thanks to The Three Hundred and other donors who keep faith with the Foundation’s mission and their fellow visionaries.
All of this wind was in our collective sails when Foundation chair Aubrey de Grey and SENS program director Jeff Hall met with Peter Thiel for the latest of our periodic updates. Peter was so pleased and excited by this very strong, broad show of support for longevity research that he decided on the spot to donate the full remaining balance of his $1,000,000 matching pledge for 2007! We’re still doing the calculations, but it looks like this will add more than $750,000 in new funding, cash in hand and ready to be used in the laboratory, for the Foundation.
So, what’s the bottom line?
And who knows how valuable the “1% For Life” stock donations from companies like Novamente and Mediox – and soon to be many more – might become in the years ahead?
What a fantastic way to end a great year of fundraising and progress for the Foundation! Thank you all for continuing to provide the resources to bring forward the defeat of degenerative aging and the repair of its damage, one step at a time.
Now looking ahead, this is the time at which we roll up our sleeves even further to ensure that the coming year is even better for longevity science: these additional funds will more than double the amount that we can spend on SENS research in 2008 relative to 2007. We plan to put this money to work by increasing the manpower on both our existing SENS projects (LysoSENS and MitoSENS), and by initiating at least two new projects.
The expansion of the LysoSENS program will see Methuselah Foundation-funded work occurring at a minimum of four sites around the USA, including Columbia University in New York and the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, in addition to the two existing sites at Arizona State University in Phoenix and Rice University in Houston. The work will involve identifying enzymes that degrade at least three of the main molecules that accumulate in the body in age-related diseases as diverse as atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes and macular degeneration.
Our MitoSENS work will be centered in Paris, where initially two and later at least three researchers will create cells that are progressively less and less dependent on the function of their mitochondrial DNA. Importantly, this work is already being tested in live animals with promising (albeit preliminary) results.
The new projects we plan to initiate will be named OncoSENS and ApoptoSENS. We may also embark on a third project, AmyloSENS, depending on availability of additional funds.
OncoSENS will focus on various aspects of WILT (Whole-body Interdiction of Lengthening of Telomeres), the SENS plan for defeating cancer. The work we plan to support in 2008 concerns two components of WILT: identification of genes essential for ALT, the telomerase-independent mechanism that some cancers use for maintaining telomeres, and optimization of the ability of telomerase-deficient stem cells to repopulate and maintain continuously renewing tissues such as the blood.
ApoptoSENS will address the problem of accumulating, non-dividing, dysfunctional cells by triggering their death (“apoptosis” being the name given to a form of programmed cell death). Our first target in this area will be the inactive white blood cells that accumulate with age as a side-effect of the suppression of persistent viruses.
AmyloSENS will build on the recent success of immunotherapy targeted at the amyloid that accumulates in the brains of Alzheimer’s sufferers. Amyloid of different composition also accumulates in other tissues in old age, and we believe it can be removed by a similar approach.
In all three areas we have already been involved in detailed discussions of timeframes and costs with some of the world’s best-qualified researchers in the respective areas, so we are close to putting our donors’ generous gifts to good use. You’ll be hearing more of progress in SENS research as the year progresses, so stay turned.