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Aubrey de Grey

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Aubrey David Nicholas Jasper de Grey (born 20 April 1963 in London, England) is a British biomedical gerontologist educated at Cambridge University in the UK.

De Grey is the author of the general-audience book "Ending Aging," a detailed description of how regenerative medicine may be able to defeat aging entirely within a few decades. He works on the development of what he has termed "strategies for engineered negligible senescence" (SENS) - a tissue-repair strategy intended to rejuvenate the human body and thereby allow an indefinite lifespan. To this end, he has identified seven types of molecular and cellular "damage" caused by essential metabolic processes; SENS is a proposed panel of therapies to repair this damage.[1]

De Grey has been interviewed in recent years in many news sources, including CBS 60 Minutes, BBC, the New York Times, Fortune Magazine, the Washington Post, Popular Science and The Colbert Report. His main activities at present are as chairman and chief science officer of the Methuselah Foundation[2] and editor-in-chief of the academic journal Rejuvenation Research.

EducationEdit

Aubrey de Grey was educated at Sussex House School, Harrow School and Trinity Hall, Cambridge. Prior to his work in cellular and molecular biology, he studied computer science. In 1985, he received a B.A. in Computer Science from the University of Cambridge and joined Sinclair Research Ltd as an AI/software engineer; in 1986, he co-founded Man-Made Minions Ltd[3] to pursue the development of an automated formal program verifier. Until 2006, he was in charge of software development at the University of Cambridge Genetics Department for the FlyBase genetic database.

During this time Cambridge awarded de Grey a Ph.D. by a mechanism available only to previous Cambridge undergraduates (of whatever discipline) — the "special regulations," which require evidence of "...a significant contribution to scholarship,"[4] and are evaluated by the usual methods (examiners appointed; oral defence of the submitted work) but do not require an applicant to have been registered as a Ph.D. student while performing such work. The degree was granted in 2000[5] on the basis of de Grey's book concerning the biology of one aspect of aging, The Mitochondrial Free Radical Theory of Aging (ISBN 1-58706-155-4), which he wrote in 1999. The book controversially claimed that obviating damage to mitochondrial DNA might by itself extend lifespan significantly, though it stated that it was more likely that cumulative damage to mitochondria is a significant cause of senescence, but not the single dominant cause. A February 8, 2007 search for "de Grey AD [au]" on PubMed [6] revealed 61 publications in 25 peer-reviewed journals, of which 19 are in Rejuvenation Research (impact factor 4.728), the journal edited by de Grey.


Regarding his background as a computer scientist (and subsequently a bioinformatician in genetics), he states:

"There are really very important differences between the type of creativity involved in being a scientist and being a technical engineer. It means that I’m able to think in very different ways and come up with approaches to things that are different from the way a basic scientist might think."[7]

StrategiesEdit

De Grey argues that the fundamental knowledge needed to develop effective anti-aging medicine mostly already exists, and that the science is ahead of the funding. He works to identify and promote specific technological approaches to the reversal of various aspects of aging, or as de Grey puts it, "the set of accumulated side effects from metabolism that eventually kills us,"[7] and for the more proactive and urgent approaches to extending the healthy human lifespan. Regarding this issue, de Grey is a supporter of life extension.

As of 2005, his work centered upon a detailed plan called Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS), which is aimed at preventing age-related physical and cognitive decline. He is also the co-founder (with David Gobel) and chief scientist of the Methuselah Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Springfield, Virginia, United States. A major activity of the Methuselah Foundation is the Methuselah Mouse Prize,[8] a prize designed to hasten the research into effective life extension interventions by awarding monetary prizes to researchers who stretch the lifespan of mice to unprecedented lengths. Regarding this, de Grey stated in March 2005 "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." The prize reached 4.2 USD million in February 2007. De Grey believes that once dramatic life extension of already middle-aged mice has been achieved, a large amount of funding will be diverted to this kind of research, which would accelerate progress in doing the same for humans.

De Grey has published papers in this area in prominent journals with some of biogerontology's foremost researchers, including Bruce Ames, Leonid Gavrilov and S. Jay Olshansky, as well as other thinkers such as Gregory Stock.[9] He has also received support from other prominent scientists, such as William Haseltine, the biotech pioneer of Human Genome Sciences, who in March 2005 stated regarding the Methuselah Mouse Prize "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."[10]

In 2005, he was the subject of a critical article in MIT's Technology Review.[9] See de Grey Technology Review controversy.

In 2007, de Grey wrote the book "Ending Aging" with the assistance of Michael Rae.[11] It summarizes the science, politics and social challenges of the entire SENS agenda.[12]

In a 2008 broadcast[13] on the Arte German & French TV, de Grey confirmed that according to him « the first man who will live up to 1,000 years is probably already alive now, and might even be today between 50 and 60 years old ».

The seven types of aging damage proposed by de GreyEdit

Main article: Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence
  1. Cancer-causing nuclear mutations/epimutations:
    These are changes to the nuclear DNA (nDNA), the molecule that contains our genetic information, or to proteins which bind to the nDNA. Certain mutations can lead to cancer, and, according to de Grey, non-cancerous mutations and epimutations do not contribute to aging within a normal lifespan, so cancer is the only endpoint of these types of damage that must be addressed.
  2. Mitochondrial mutations:
    Mitochondria are components in our cells that are important for energy production. They contain their own genetic material, and mutations to their DNA can affect a cell’s ability to function properly. Indirectly, these mutations may accelerate many aspects of aging.
  3. Intracellular junk:
    Our cells are constantly breaking down proteins and other molecules that are no longer useful or which can be harmful. Those molecules which can’t be digested simply accumulate as junk inside our cells. Atherosclerosis, macular degeneration and all kinds of neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer's disease) are associated with this problem.
  4. Extracellular junk:
    Harmful junk protein can also accumulate outside of our cells. The amyloid plaque seen in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients is one example.
  5. Cell loss:
    Some of the cells in our bodies cannot be replaced, or can only be replaced very slowly - more slowly than they die. This decrease in cell number causes the heart to become weaker with age, and it also causes Parkinson's disease and impairs the immune system.
  6. Cell senescence:
    This is a phenomenon where the cells are no longer able to divide, but also do not die and let others divide. They may also do other things that they’re not supposed to, like secreting proteins that could be harmful. Immune senescence and type 2 diabetes are caused by this.[citation needed]
  7. Extracellular crosslinks:
    Cells are held together by special linking proteins. When too many cross-links form between cells in a tissue, the tissue can lose its elasticity and cause problems including arteriosclerosis and presbyopia.[7]

Technology Review debate Edit

Main article: De Grey Technology Review debate

A debate over the validity of the de Grey's theories on ageing was published in MIT's Technology Review. In the end, none of the challengers to de Grey were able to convince the judges that SENS was "so wrong that it is unworthy of learned debate."

Scientific journalEdit

Titles and positionsEdit

De Grey is a fellow of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies[14] and an advisor for the Singularity Institute.[15]

Recorded public appearancesEdit

TalksEdit

2008Edit

2007Edit

2006Edit

2005Edit

2003Edit

TV interviewsEdit

Radio, podcast, and video podcast interviewsEdit

File:AubreyDeGreyAndEliezerYudkowsky.png

Film appearancesEdit

See alsoEdit

References Edit

  1. SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence)
  2. The Methuselah Foundation
  3. Man-Made Minions - HOME
  4. University of Cambridge Special Regulations:
  5. Reporter 13/12/00: Congregation of the Regent House on 9 December 2000
  6. PubMed Home
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Hang in There: The 25-Year Wait for Immortality interview with LiveScience
  8. Methuselah Mouse Prize
  9. 9.0 9.1 Nuland, Sherwin. (February 2005). "Do You Want to Live Forever?". Technology Review.
  10. Britt, Robert Roy. March 9, 2005. "Anti-Aging Prize Tops $1 Million". LiveScience. Imaginova.
  11. de Grey, Aubrey; Rae, Michael. September 2007. Ending Aging: The Rejuvenation Breakthroughs that Could Reverse Human Aging in Our Lifetime. New York, NY: Saint Martin's Press, 416 p. ISBN 0312367066.
  12. Ben Best (December 2007). "Book Review: ENDING AGING". Life Extension Magazine. Life Extension Foundation. Retrieved on 2007-04-12.
  13. Aux frontières de l'immortalité, November 16th, 2008, 23:10, director : Gerald Caillat
  14. Aubrey de Grey, Fellow, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies
  15. Aubrey de Grey, advisor, The Singularity Institute
  16. http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/16508

External linksEdit

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