In a move that will push the Methuselah Foundation’s M Prize over the $1 million mark, Dr. William Haseltine, biotech pioneer of Human Genome Sciences fame, has joined the Three Hundred, a group of individuals who pledge to donate $1000 per year to the M Prize for the next 25 years. “I am delighted that my decision to join the Three Hundred has pushed the prize fund over its first one million dollars, which I trust is only the first of many millions,” said Dr. Haseltine of his decision. “There’s nothing to compare with this effort, and it has already contributed significantly to the awareness that regenerative medicine is a near term reality, not an IF.”
Dr. William Haseltine’s stature as the father of regenerative medicine - for his research in the field of biomedical genomics - is matched by his reputation as a creative and successful businessman. His commitment to the prize speaks to both its scientific integrity and its viability as a model for encouraging research into the science of curing aging.
“The Methuselah Foundation’s M Prize has sparked the public’s interest in regenerative biomedicine,” said Dr. Haseltine. “Encouraging researchers to compete for the most dramatic advances in the science of slowing, even reversing aging, is a revolutionary new model that is making its mark.”
Methuselah Foundation chairman Aubrey de Grey is very happy that this fund-raising milestone for the mouse longevity extension prize has been reached.
“That’s good news for those of us who are already alive,” says Dr. Aubrey de Grey, Cambridge biogerontologist and Chairman of the Methuselah Foundation. “If we are to bring about real regenerative therapies that will benefit not just future generations, but those of us who are alive today, we must encourage scientists to work on the problem of aging,” said de Grey. “The M Prize is a catalyst for research into this field. The defeat of aging is foreseeable, if we take the steps to make it happen.”
The idea behind the prize is similar to that behind the Ansari X Prize. The X Prize demonstrated that prize money can provide big incentives for people to extend the boundaries of what is possible. The M Prize is attracting scientists enticed by the idea that they could simultaneously do scientifically and medically valuable research while also possibly making themselves rich. What's not to like about that?
- a "Longevity Prize" (LP) for the oldest-ever Mus musculus;
- a "Rejuvenation Prize" (RP) for the best-ever late-onset intervention.
You can read the details of the eligibility for each prize and how the sizes of the awards are calculated at that link.
Aubrey de Grey believes aging can be stopped and reversed using what he calls Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS). FuturePundit agrees! You can read interviews of Aubrey about SENS here and here.
The Methuselah Foundation is a non-profit 501c(3) organization of professional and non-professional volunteers who are dedicated to raising the awareness of the potential for near-term science-based aging interventions using modern technologies. With the map of the human genome and the power of supercomputers to guide them, competitors for monetary prizes sponsored by the Foundation are racing to be the first to develop real anti-aging therapies.
Update The Methuselah Mouse Prize reached the half million dollar mark in September 2004. So the prize appears to be averaging about $100,000 per month in donations. Obviously the idea of a prize aimed at finding ways to extend life and avoid aging is appealing to a lot of people who want to avoid growing old, weak, and sickly. My guess is that prospect of all the physical changes associated with aging (such as physical disablement, urinary incontinence, benigh prostate hyperplasia, metastatic bone cancer, colostomy bags, macular degeneration leading to blindness, the muscle wasting of sarcopenia, loss of teeth, a declining ability to maintain balance, a declining ability to handle very cold or hot weather, a reduction in coordination, knee pain, back pain, broken bones, emphysema, decline in hearing ability, and cognitive decline) are just not popular outside of the President's Council on Bioethics.
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