Cryonics Institute

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Cryonics Institute
2014 Cryonics Institute Logo - 240 pixels.jpg
Founded 4 April 1976
(38 years ago)
Founder Richard C. Davis, Robert Ettinger, Mae A. Junod, Walter E. Runkel
Focus Cryopreservation of humans and pets in the hope of future reanimation.
Coordinates 42°33′18.7″N 82°51′59.83″W / 42.555194°N 82.8666194°W / 42.555194; -82.8666194
Area served
Method Cryonics vitrification perfusion[1] and cryogenic storage[2]
1318 (March 26, 2015)
Owner Owned by voting members (members who have human cryopreservation funding and contracts)
Key people
Andy Zawacki, Dennis Kowalski, Stephan Beauregard
Membership fees and donations; Master Cemetery Trust

The Cryonics Institute (CI) is a member-owned-and-operated not-for-profit corporation which provides cryonics services. It is located in Clinton Township, Michigan.

As on March 26, 2015, The Cryonics Institute has 1,318 members in total (Members / Patients Included).164 of those funded members had contracts with Suspended Animation, Inc. for standby and transport. 132 humans, 190 human tissue/DNA samples and 111 pets and 60 pet tissue/DNA samples are cryogenically preserved in liquid nitrogen storage at the Crynoics Institute’s Michigan facility.[3]


The Cryonics Institute was incorporated in the state of Michigan on 4 April 1976 by four local residents: Richard C. Davis, Robert Ettinger, Mae A. Junod and Walter E. Runkel. Ettinger is widely known as "the father of cryonics" because his book The Prospect of Immortality[4] is believed to have launched the cryonics movement. CI's first client was Ettinger's mother in 1977, and until the beginning of the 1990s, only one more client came along. This was Ettinger's first wife in 1987.[5]

In March 1978, The Cryonics Institute purchased a building near Detroit.[5] It served as its location until 1994, when the organization moved to the new Erfurt Runkel Building. It is named after John C Erfurt and Walter E. Runkel (who are now both in suspension there), and has a sprinkler system for additional security.[6][7]

Robert Ettinger was CI President for over 25 years until September 2003, when Ben Best became President/CEO and Robert Ettinger became Vice-President. Mr Ettinger retired as Vice-President on his 87th birthday in December 2005, but remained a Director until new Directors were elected in September 2006. For most of the 1990s, Benjamin Best was President of the Cryonics Society of Canada (CSC) and was Editor of Canadian Cryonics News until the last issue was published in Spring of 2000. He is still a Director of CSC.

In 2003, an article was published in Sports Illustrated magazine centering around the cryonics organization Alcor Life Extension Foundation; the article contained accusations from a fired Alcor employee alleging Alcor had mishandled the cryopreservation of baseball star Ted Williams. Despite the fact that the Cryonics Institute was not involved in the case, the media hype spurred the state of Michigan to place CI under a "Cease and Desist" order for six months.

Subsequently, the Michigan government decided to license and regulate the Cryonics Institute as a cemetery.[8] This is the reason why, between 2004 and 2012, the perfusion of the bodies could not be performed in the Cryonics Institute building. In accordance to law, it had to be done at the facilities of a funeral director. In 2012, in the spirit of deregulation, the new Michigan Republican government (thanks to the efforts of lawyer David Ettinger) reversed the Cryonics Institute's classification as a cemetery, removing CI from cemetery regulation.[9] Government officials acknowledged that cemetery had been an inappropriate classification. Cryonics is predicated on the presumption that cryopreserved individuals who satisfy legal death criteria may not in fact be dead, and can, in principle, be resuscitated given sufficient technological advances.


Cryonics Institute main facility in Clinton Township, Michigan

All Officers[10] of the Cryonics Institute are also Directors.[11] As of September, 2014, the Cryonics Institute Directors & Officers were:

President Dennis Kowalski
Vice-President Alan Mole
Chief of Operations/Secretary Andy Zawacki
Chief Communications & Social Media Stephan Beauregard
Chief Financial Officer/Treasurer Patrick Heller
Chief Investment Office/Asst Secretary Joseph Kowalsky
Chief Business Office/Asst Treasurer S.R. Luyckx
Chief CI Risk John Strickland
Chief Legal Officer Connie Ettinger
Chief Financial Advisor Paul Hagen
Chief Overseas Director Marta Sandberg
Chief Organizational & Director Debbie Flemming


The Cryonics Institute has 12 Directors on its Board of Directors four of whom are elected by the members every year at the Annual General Meeting (usually held on the last Sunday of September). The Board then selects the Officers: President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer. All members of the board are volunteers.[12]

The Cryonics Institute only allows its members to arrange for whole body storage, not simply heads (neuropreservation).

The basic $28,000/$35,000 cryopreservation fees and contract with the Cryonics Institute does not include Standby or Transport. CI members living outside of Michigan must normally provide extra funding (Less than $5000) to pay for Funeral Director services and shipping. CI members wanting Standby & Transport from cryonics professionals can contract for additional payment to the Florida-based company Suspended Animation, Inc.[13] CI has had clients from as far away as India or New Zealand.


Notable current members include many international business man, entrepreneurs, scientists and the "Father of Cryonics," Robert Ettinger.

All of CI’s Directors and officers are directly elected by and from their membership, giving their members institutional oversight and ownership.[14]

The Immortalist Society is a closely associated educational organization that publishes the magazine Long Life (formerly called The Immortalist) every two months. Long Life reports on activities of the Cryonics Institute along with other information related to cryonics and life extension and is available online for free. The previous newsletter of the Cryonics Society of Michigan was The Outlook.[15]

Technical procedures[edit]

The Cryonics Institute has always provided all initial procedures, transport and storage internally, without contracting out to other providers.[16] For most of its history, CI perfused bodies with the (antifreeze) cryoprotectant glycerol, but in the year 2000 a cryobiologist was hired: Yuri Pichugin, Ph.D., who had done research on the Hippocampal Slice Cryopreservation Project (HSCP). HSCP was a project focused on vitrification of rat brain hippocampal slices which involved cooling to −130 degrees Celsius, rewarming and testing for viability. The results of the HSPC were published in the April 2006 issue of the journal Cryobiology.[17]


At The Cryonics Institute, Pichugin developed a vitrification mixture which is superior to glycerol in preventing ice formation. This vitrification mixture was first applied to two dogs of members who wanted their pets cryopreserved in 2004 and early 2005. The first human client received the vitrification mixture in the summer of 2005 using a new procedure in which the head was vitrified while still attached to the body, which was frozen without any cryoprotectant.[18] In February 2007 the Cryonics Institute abandoned its efforts to patent its vitrification mixture and disclosed the formula to preclude others from preventing its use by CI.[19] Dr. Pichugin resigned from the Cryonics Institute in December 2007.[20]

In the summer of 2005, The Cryonics Institute obtained some custom-built computer-controlled cooling boxes, with LabVIEW software which would allow controlled cooling to a temperature as low as −192 °C (−313 °F). This equipment was necessary for effective application of vitrification, because cooling should be as fast as possible prior to the solidification temperature of the vitrification mixture (about −125 °C), but cooling should be very slow below that temperature to reduce cracking due to thermal stress.

Instead of using dewars for storage, The Cryonics Institute cryopreserves bodies in large fiberglass/resin liquid-nitrogen-filled "thermos bottles" which CI calls "cryostats". The first cryostats were hand-built in-house[15] by Facilities Manager Andy Zawacki, but now the units are custom built by an external manufacturer. Costs for liquid nitrogen in the newest and most efficient cryostats was below $100 per human body per year in May 2006. Cost reduction is greatly assisted by the use of a 3,000 gallon bulk tank for liquid nitrogen, which is located behind the building. From this central point the liquid nitrogen gets distributed to the cryostats over a system of pipes. Liquid nitrogen is refilled on a weekly basis and does not need electricity to operate.


"Neurocryopreservation" refers to the practice of removing and cryopreserving only the head of a person declared legally dead. The theory is that only the information contained in the brain is of any importance, and that a new body could be cloned or regenerated at some point in the future. Neurocryopreservation requires less space and maintenance, and so costs less.

The Cryonics Institute does not offer this option, largely because they`re concerned with public perception. Specifically, their concern is that people will be alienated by the idea of "frozen severed heads" and won't judge cryonics on its merits.[21] The extra funds charged to ACS members beyond CI minimums could be used for moving the bodies in the future if necessary, or other uses.[21]


  1. ^ "Outline of CI Cryopreservation Procedures". Cryonics Institute. Retrieved 2012-10-05. 
  2. ^ "Cryostats for Cryogenic Storage". Cryonics Institute. Retrieved 2012-10-05. 
  3. ^ "Cryonics Institute (CI) Statistics Details". Cryonics Institute. Retrieved 2013-09-17. 
  4. ^ Ettinger, Robert (May 1, 2005). The Prospect of Immortality. Ria University Press. ISBN 0-9743472-3-X. 
  5. ^ a b Bridge, Steve (1992). "Fifteen Years in Cryonics". Alcor Indiana newsletter (Alcor Indiana). Retrieved 2009-08-24. 
  6. ^ "Long Life". Retrieved 2011-02-12. 
  7. ^ Best, Ben. "Cryonics Institute Sprinkler System". Retrieved 2011-02-12. 
  8. ^ Piet, Elizabeth (2004-02-17). "Cryonics lab one of three in United States". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-05-30. 
  9. ^ Cryonics Institute President's Report, Ben Best (May–June 2012). "LONG LIFE magazine". Immortalist Society. Retrieved 2014-12-07. 
  10. ^ "Officers of the Cryonics Institute". Cryonics Institute. Retrieved 2012-10-05. 
  11. ^ "Directors of the Cryonics Institute". Cryonics Institute. Retrieved 2012-10-05. 
  12. ^ "Frozen Bodies Reside In Clinton Township". Channel 4 Detroit. Archived from the original on 2005-03-22. Retrieved 2009-08-25. 
  13. ^ Best, Benjamin (2008). "A History of Cryonics". The Immortalist. Cryonics Institute. Retrieved 2009-08-24. 
  14. ^ Bersten, Rosanne (2002-08-24). "Australians put hands up for big freeze". The Age. Retrieved 2009-08-25. 
  15. ^ a b Darwin, Mike (1991). "Cold War: The Conflict Between Cryonicists and Cryobiologists". Cryonics (Alcor Life Extension Foundation). Retrieved 2009-08-24. 
  16. ^ Mondragon, Carlos (1994). "Defining the Cryonics Institution". Cryonics and Life Extension Conference. Alcor Life Extension Foundation. Retrieved 2009-08-23. 
  17. ^ Pichugin,Fahy,Morin (April 2006). "Cryopreservation of rat hippocampal slices by vitrification" (PDF). Cryobiology 52 (2): 228–240. doi:10.1016/j.cryobiol.2005.11.006. PMID 16403489. 
  18. ^ Ben Best. "The Cryonics Institute's 69th Client". Cryonics Institute. Retrieved 2007-03-09. 
  19. ^ Best, Benjamin (2007-02-23). "Cryonics Institute Vitrification Formula Disclosure". CryoNet. Retrieved 2007-09-02. 
  20. ^ "Dr. Pichugin resigns, Chana de Wolf visits". Cryonics Institute. 2007-12-14. Retrieved 2008-05-01. 
  21. ^ a b Best, Benjamin (2008). "Revival Assets Seminar". The Immortalist (Cryonics Institute). Retrieved 2009-08-26. 

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