Methuselah Foundation supporter Darren Reynolds recently asked our CEO Dave Gobel about the new My Bridge 4 Life initative:
I’ve been funding the Methuselah Foundation with small donations for a year or two now, so thought I’d come back to check what’s been happening.
My Bridge 4 Life appears to be happening, and as far as I can tell, the project isn’t compatible with MF’s goals. We’re all suffering with a life-threatening condition – ageing. If you were ever going to produce a database of tips, it ought to be one that says, “eat fruit and vegetables”, “walk to the shops”, etc. A study of causes of death by age, along with strategies for avoidance of each cause might have been helpful. It seems to me that MB4L runs counter to the principle that it is ageing we’re fighting, not individual diseases.
Perhaps you have the time to help me understand how MB4L fits in?
Here is Dave Gobel’s explanation:
Hi Darren – Thanks so much for taking the time to ask!
The reason for MB4L is that we are working to reduce the “aha! gap” or conceptual hurdle for the billions of folks for whom a leap straight to the idea of extending healthy life is too vast and daunting a gap. Thus the “bridge” in “My Bridge 4 Life” is both a bridge for life today and a hoped for VERY long and healthy tomorrow.
For those suffering from life threatening diseases, it IS within the mission to help save lives today. But as you’ll agree, this must be done in ways that ADD strength to the long term mission – rather than distracting therefrom – all while providing good and mission-relevant services in the process. This is why your question is so relevant, and something I constantly ask myself.
While cancer is the initial focus of MB4L, please think of it (as it truly is) as a platform technology. For instance, as the MB4L platform moves to beta, Methuselah Foundation has planned to do exactly what you suggest – that is, to create a MB4L community devoted to tips and community that identifies and encourages all to engage in the sorts of sensible life behaviours that directly extend healthy human life.
So, the logic goes like this: Most people are too busy, unwilling, or unable to anticipate the future in sufficient detail to take preemtive action on the decay brought about via aging. Thus, 99.9% of folks are too engaged in the business of life in the moment to take mortality seriously. It’s only when they discover they or a loved one already have a life threatening condition that it comes sufficiently home to them that all distractions MUST be set aside, and that something MUST be done right NOW…and naturally, they focus on the clear and present threat/disease, rather than the root of most diseases – aging itself.
What to do about all too human pattern of behavior?
The Foundation is engaged in the art of the possible. Thus, we started with a mid term strategy – the Mprize and similar populist approaches to excite and incent the science while generating positive publicity. The first funding gambit of the Foundation was to engage the power of The 300: people visionary and committed enough to fund the effort sufficiently well to allow the next steps that must engage millions rather than hundreds.
After having gained very significant traction, we next turned to the very long term strategy to engineer negligible senescence (SENS) and similar strategies such as Organovo 3d autologous tissue printing technology of which MF is the founding investor on behalf of its donors.
These efforts have provided the mission with a growing constituency and funding sources all while legitimately pursuing the goal.
The new effort – focused on the short term and exemplified by MB4L – is designed to gain the positive attention of the 99.9% of the population who have been too busy to pay attention to the real underlying problems, but to whom life has handed a very sad but compelling imperative – i.e. “I (or my loved one) has Cancer (or some other life-threatening condition)!” The goal of MB4L is to provide serious, valid and relevant medical information, family and community support, education and hopefully lifesaving insights to such people at very low cost. At the same time while adding supporters and generating donations in behalf of the foundation and its longer-term mission.
During their involvement with MB4L it will become clear to MB4L’s participants that the real enemy to defeat is the insidious underlying process that made them or their loved ones vulnerable to the disease that eventually attacked them. In a sense, MB4L is a real bridge that saves lives both in the present AND in the future. It is a bridge that brings people to understand the larger goals at a time when they are willing and able to listen.
Methuselah Foundation has always been designed to be anti-elitist and have a single goal – extend healthy human life by defeating and preventing the diseases and decay of aging. In order to succeed there is simply no doubt that we must engage and secure the active enthusiasm of millions of people for whom a direct attack on aging is MUCH too large a mental leap at this time. We must engage them in productive ways that accelerate the mission while also finding ways to vastly increase the support from those billions for whom a direct attack on aging is too large a leap today…in short, a bridge for life.
MB4L will produce a beneficial influence in the non-profit world of patient advocacy of age-related disease, presently a Babel-like hodgepodge of attacking the end state of this disease or the final symptoms of that disease rather than the real root underlying root cause of it all: aging.
MB4L is one way by which MF will legitimately appeal to and provide services to such sufferers, their friends and their families when they need it most – in the hope, belief and plan that once they are served by Methuselah Foundation, they will come to appreciate the overarching, uniting elements of the mission to defeat aging. They will then add to our currently powerful yet small numbers their grateful voices and treasure … in their millions.