Aubrey de Grey
Aubrey de Grey
Aubrey David Nicholas Jasper de Grey
20 April 1963
|Alma mater||Trinity Hall, Cambridge|
|Occupation||Chief science officer of the SENS Research Foundation|
VP of New Technology discovery at AgeX Therapeutics
Adjunct professor at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology
(m. 1991; div. 2017)
|Parent(s)||Cordelia de Grey|
Aubrey David Nicholas Jasper de Grey (//; born 20 April 1963) is an English author and biomedical gerontologist. He is the Chief Science Officer of the SENS Research Foundation and VP of New Technology Discovery at AgeX Therapeutics, Inc. He is editor-in-chief of the academic journal Rejuvenation Research, author of The Mitochondrial Free Radical Theory of Aging (1999) and co-author of Ending Aging (2007). He is known for his view that medical technology may enable human beings alive today not to die from age-related causes. He is also an amateur mathematician who has contributed to the study of the Hadwiger–Nelson problem.
De Grey is an international adjunct professor of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, the American Aging Association, and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. He has been interviewed in recent years in a number of news sources, including CBS 60 Minutes, the BBC, The New York Times, Fortune Magazine, The Washington Post, TED, Popular Science, The Colbert Report, Time, the Skeptics' Guide to the Universe, and The Joe Rogan Experience. He also has appeared in Steve Aoki's second studio album, Neon Future I.
Early life and education
De Grey was born and brought up in London, England. He told The Observer that he never knew his father, and that his mother Cordelia, an artist, encouraged him in the areas she herself was the weakest: science and mathematics. He was educated at Sussex House School and Harrow School. He attended the University of Cambridge, and studied at its constituent college of Trinity Hall. He graduated with a BA in computer science in 1985.
After graduation in 1985, de Grey joined Sinclair Research as an artificial intelligence and software engineer. In 1986, he cofounded Man-Made Minions Ltd to pursue the development of an automated formal program verifier. At a graduate party in Cambridge, de Grey met fruit fly geneticist Adelaide Carpenter whom he would later marry. Through her he was introduced to the intersection of biology and programming when her boss needed someone who knew about computers and biology to take over the running of a database on fruit flies. He educated himself in biology by reading journals and textbooks, attending conferences, and being tutored by Professor Carpenter. From 1992 to 2006, he was in charge of software development at the university's Genetics Department for the FlyBase genetic database.
Cambridge awarded de Grey a Ph.D. by publication in biology on 9 December 2000. The degree was based on his 1999 book The Mitochondrial Free Radical Theory of Aging, in which de Grey wrote that obviating damage to mitochondrial DNA might by itself extend lifespan significantly, though he said it was more likely that cumulative damage to mitochondria is a significant cause of senescence, but not the single dominant cause.
De Grey argues that most of the fundamental knowledge needed to develop effective anti-aging medicine 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."
As of 2005[update], his work centered on a detailed plan called Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS), which is aimed at preventing age-related physical and cognitive decline. In March 2009, he cofounded the SENS Research Foundation (named SENS Foundation until early 2013), a non-profit organisation based in California, United States, where he currently serves as Chief Science Officer. The Foundation "works to develop, promote and ensure widespread access to regenerative medicine solutions to the disabilities and diseases of aging," focusing on the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence. Before March 2009, the SENS research program was mainly pursued by the Methuselah Foundation, cofounded by de Grey.
A major activity of the Methuselah Foundation is the Methuselah Mouse Prize, a prize designed to incentivize research into effective life extension interventions by awarding monetary prizes to researchers who stretch the lifespan of mice to unprecedented lengths. 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.
In 2012, de Grey inherited a considerable fortune of more than US$16 million, US$13 million of which he donated to the SENS Research Foundation.
AgeX Therapeutics, Inc.
On 8 April 2018, de Grey posted a paper to the arXiv explicitly constructing a unit-distance graph in the plane that cannot be colored with fewer than five colors. The previous lower bound is due to the problem's original proposal in 1950 by Hugo Hadwiger and Edward Nelson. De Grey's graph has 1581-vertices but it has since been reduced to 633 vertices by independent researchers.
Technology Review debate
In 2005, MIT Technology Review, in cooperation with the Methuselah Foundation, announced a $20,000 prize for any molecular biologist who could demonstrate that SENS was "so wrong that it is unworthy of learned debate." The judges of the challenge were Rodney Brooks, Anita Goel, Vikram Sheel Kumar, Nathan Myhrvold, and Craig Venter. Five submissions were made, of which three met the terms of the challenge. De Grey wrote a rebuttal to each submission, and the challengers wrote responses to each rebuttal. The judges concluded that none of the challengers had disproved SENS, but the magazine opined that one of the submissions had been particularly eloquent and well written, and awarded the contestant $10,000. The judges also noted "the proponents of SENS have not made a compelling case for SENS," and wrote that many of its proposals could not be verified with the current level of scientific knowledge and technology, concluding that "SENS does not compel the assent of many knowledgeable scientists; but neither is it demonstrably wrong." The critics single out three proposed therapies for criticism: somatic telomerase deletion, somatic mitochondrial genome engineering, and the use of transgenic microbial hydrolase.
A 2005 article about SENS published in the viewpoint section of EMBO Reports by 28 scientists concluded that none of de Grey's hypotheses "has ever been shown to extend the lifespan of any organism, let alone humans". The SENS Research Foundation, of which de Grey was a cofounder, seems to agree with the EMBO Report as it states, "If you want to reverse the damage of aging right now I'm afraid the simple answer is, you can't." Nonetheless, de Grey argues that this reveals a serious gap in understanding between basic scientists and technologists and between biologists studying aging and those studying regenerative medicine. The 25-member Research Advisory Board of his own SENS Research Foundation have signed an endorsement of the plausibility of the SENS approach.
- de Grey, Aubrey (1999). The Mitochondrial Free Radical Theory of Aging. Austin: R.G. Landes Company. ISBN 1-57059-564-X.
- de Grey, Aubrey, ed. (2004). Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence: Why Genuine Control of Aging May Be Foreseeable. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. ISBN 978-1573314961.
- de Grey, Aubrey; Rae, Michael (2007). Ending Aging: The Rejuvenation Breakthroughs that Could Reverse Human Aging in Our Lifetime. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-36706-0. OCLC 132583222.
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- Congregation of the Regent House on 9 December 2000, Cambridge University Reporter, 13 December 2000. Special regulations available only to Cambridge degree holders (of whatever discipline) permit the submission of "...a significant contribution to scholarship" instead. Though the awardee has not been registered as a PhD student, the degree is not honorary; applicants are evaluated by the usual methods, with examiners appointed and an oral defense of the submitted work.
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I inherited 16.5 million dollars of which I donated 13 million. That was back in 2012 before we had any projects that we could spin out into companies. That inheritance was very timely, but the point is that I would still do it even now. If my mother died today, I’d probably do the same thing, ... every donor is different; some donors are more philanthropically inclined than others.
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- de Grey, Aubrey D.N.J (8 April 2018), The chromatic number of the plane is at least 5, arXiv:1804.02385, Bibcode:2018arXiv180402385D
- Lamb, Evelyn (17 April 2018). "Decades-Old Graph Problem Yields to Amateur Mathematician".
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