Entrepreneur Jason Hope Pledges Half a Million Dollars to SENS Foundation

Here’s the press release:

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Dec. 9, 2010 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/

The global scientific community is increasingly recognizing the role of rejuvenation biotechnologies in addressing age-related disease. This week, Arizona-based businessman Jason Hope announced a $500,000 donation to SENS Foundation, a California-based non-profit organization that works to develop, promote and ensure widespread access to rejuvenation biotechnologies which comprehensively address age-related disease.

“I have had great interest in the SENS Foundation and Dr. Aubrey de Grey’s work for some time now. I believe their work is essential to the advancement of human medicine and their approach to the overall problem of human aging and its associated diseases (Alzheimer’s, Atherosclerosis, Diabetes, etc.) is the only way to go. Their work and the work of others that they support will drive the complete redefinition and reshaping of the healthcare, pharmaceutical, and biotech industries as we know them today. The advancement of rejuvenation biotechnologies is not only extremely important, but it is the future. I am honored to support the SENS Foundation in its efforts, and hope my support helps drive faster results for all of humanity,” said Jason Hope.

The donation was announced by SENS Foundation CEO, Mike Kope, at Tuesday’s ‘Breakthrough Philanthropy’ event hosted by the Thiel Foundation, in the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.

“We need to create an entirely new biotech industry. That’s why we created SENS Foundation: to be a credible catalyst for change; to be a public research and outreach organization devoted to the creation of a new field- rejuvenation biotechnology. To that end, we are proud that our projects are capturing the imaginations of top tier collaborators in biotech and regenerative medicine. Jason Hope’s donation is a major contribution, enabling us to build on our existing collaborations in 2011, and accelerating our progress in the fight against age-related disease,” said Mike Kope.

“I enjoyed hearing a lot of great presentations at the Breakthrough Philanthropy event,” said Thiel Foundation chairman Peter Thiel. “But for me, the highlight of the whole evening was hearing about Jason’s bold commitment to defeating aging.”

SENS Foundation CSO, Aubrey de Grey, described the use to which Hope’s donation will be put:

“Arteriosclerosis – hardening of the arteries – is the main cause of increased blood pressure (hypertension) in the elderly, which in turn exacerbates major aspects of aging such as diabetes. It is caused largely by the unwanted accumulation of molecular bonds between the proteins that hold the cells of the artery in place – the extracellular matrix. The same process causes long-sightedness (presbyopia) and contributes to skin aging. I am delighted that Jason’s donation will fund our work on the pharmacological breaking of these unwanted molecular bonds, and the restoration of elasticity to the body’s extracellular matrix.”

To view Mike Kope’s announcement of Jason Hope’s donation at Tuesday’s ‘Breakthrough Philanthropy’ event and to learn more about SENS Foundation visit: http://sens.org/node/1858

Congratulations to SENS. I can’t wait to hear more about their research as it progresses, and I think Sarah Marr is doing a great job with SENS communications.

There’s also some coverage from KurzweilAI.net about the recent SENS meeting in Los Angeles.

Comments

  1. Heartland

    Great news. Big thanks to Mr. Hope for his donation. Aubrey de Grey sure knows how to inspire people.

  2. SigLNY

    I’m still not convinced that Aubrey isn’t a crank. I hope I’m wrong and live to 250. (Even if I do, I have doubts it will have anything to do with Aubrey De Grey.) The cult of personality that De Grey engineers for himself is suspicious, as his dismissal of most mainstream gerontologists. He openly admits he has a desperate need to do something great and important for humanity. Smells like delusions of grandeur to me. Wanting to contribute something to humanity is important and commendable. Needing to know that you, single-handedly “saved the world” is a benevolent version of meglomania. I don’t know enough about the science to dismiss him outright but I find the criticisms of gerontologist Preston Estep (who seems like a serious, sober-minded scientist not out for any kind of personal celebrity) very compelling.

    A must read:
    http://www.technologyreview.com/sens/docs/estepetal.pdf

    • Anon

      Being eccentric does not make you a crank.
      And if you aren’t sure, it’s not a crank. Even seemingly cranky people can just be holding very controversial opinions, provided sufficiently detailed reasons and possibility of falsifaction.

      And no, looking like a wizard does not make you a crank.

  3. Panda

    SigLNY-

    Your post contains nothing but ad hominem and appeal to authority fallacies. That doesn’t mean you are wrong about de Grey. It merely means you cannot articulate a logical argument for or against him. I personally reserve judgement about de Grey. He himself admits SENS might fail, and I also lack the expertise to evaluate prospects. He certainly is not accorded mainstream respect, and that may well be your gauge for making investments in ideas. If you want to read a response to Estep et al., why not read de Grey’s rebuttal?:

    http://www.technologyreview.com/sens/docs/estepetal_rebuttal.pdf

    • Matt Sigl

      Panda -
      Thank you for the link to de Grey’s rebuttal. I look forward to reading it. Though, being a laymen and not a scientist, on technical issues I am not capable of analyzing the merits of either side. Contrary to your post, I am not convinced that de Grey is wrong or that SENS is a waste of time. Far from it. As I said, I hope he is right. And there are serious scientists in de Grey’s camp which does make me take him more seriously. I was merely pointing out that there are good reasons to be suspicious of the program; both for sociological factors (de Grey’s press-friendly eccentricity, his lack of actual training in his field, the disdain he expresses toward mainstream gerontology, the bristly hostility and defensiveness with which he greets his critics) and serious scientific reasons, the details of which were spelled out by Estep, an ACTUAL gerontologist. Still, I don’t think these criticisms are ad hominem; my appeal is to reason, not emotion. Snake oil salesman are able to peddle their phony product for only one reason: they convince the credulous with their slick salesmanship and promises of the impossible. We all want to hear that something as horrible and intractable as aging is solvable and, furthermore, that someone knows how to do it. But this claim is, to say the least, very extravagant and bold. Most good science is incremental and modest for a reason. As someone who takes considerations about transhumanism, life extension, and accelerating change seriously, it’s my feeling that the transhumanist and future-sensitive community needs to be even-more rigorous than the general population about where we place our bets on the future. There is always a cognitive bias to believe what you want to hear. It’s why religions have such a grip on society, they promise what Aubrey de Grey also offers us: everlasting life.

      • Panda

        If you read my response carefully, you will see that I did not say that you were against Mr. de Grey. To make sure it’s clear, I am not a supporter of de Grey and, were I rich, I might consider donating to the Salk Institute’s work on basic ageing science instead of SENS. http://www.salk.edu/news/pressrelease_details.php?press_id=334

        The problem we confront is that we cannot evaluate his science, so we have to study credibility signals, such as his demeanor and behavior. I can’t discuss that realm; you have to consider it for yourself. But to attempt anyway, I agree that he definitely panders to the media and I would definitely like to see more people with credentials standing up there WITH him.

        Putting aside credibility questions, you did make some factual errors that are common with people studying de Grey.

        First, your final sentence states that “[religions] promise what Aubrey de Grey also offers us: everlasting life.” De Grey does not promote immortality. For a long time, on the old website, he had a Q&A in which he flatly stated immortality is impossible. The media sometimes characterizes him otherwise. If you are to study him, don’t read articles on him; watch his youtube videos and read interviews (primary source materials). Immortality from ending ageing is utterly impossible. To provide a dramatic example, a ninety-some year old who has ceased ageing still has a fifty percent chance of dying in a year. Ageing is not the only cause of death! Although an unageing twenty-year-old has a much longer life expectancy, it is still very far from infinite.

        The second error you make is one that has been perpetuated on the internet: that is to say that Mr. de Grey has no training in the field. He has a doctorate from Cambridge for writing on a dissertation on ageing. http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/reporter/2000-01/weekly/5831/27.html What de Grey lacks–and what he openly admits he lacks–is laboratory training.

  4. I think the idea to support anti-aging research, biomedical gerontology or biogerontology, which are different from my point of view, with not the same goals, and cryonics which has the same goal than biomedical gerontology but is a smaller problem (I presume) than the whole thing of anti-aging, so I think we should invest first in cryonics, and when the problems are done, fixed in this field, we can put our money, our time, our knowledge on anti-aging, as a second pursuit, that is why and how I set my priorities, cryonics first, anti-aging second. That is also why I pay my Alcor dues and I am not donating my money to SENS. However it might change as I become more self aware of my environment and become a better investor overtime.

  5. NSF FTW

    Congrats, but I can’t shake the feeling that
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Science_Foundation is failing its job.

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