Aging Research for Theory of Longevity

Theory of Longevity

Funding Aging Research

What is the Purpose of Life?

posted on June 16, 2008

What is the Purpose of Life?

One of the great philosophical questions of all time. You may or may not have given it much thought. If you™re going to live as long as I plan for you to live though, you™ll probably contemplate this question some time or another. You™ll certainly have enough time on your hands. I have spent a lot of time on this issue over the past 30 years or so and have an answer, at least for me. There may be no one-size-fits-all, but I will give you my answer next week.

Why do I bring this up in a longevity newsletter? The answer is simple. Without purpose, life loses meaning for most. If life is meaningless, at some point, especially as we evolve, virtually everyone will hit a dead end and may want his or her life to terminate. They will be bored, unfulfilled or so confused that they may lose all will to live. Life will be hopeless, and without hope, you have nothing.

When I was injured, my doctors did their level best to œcure me of any hope for recovery¦ ever. Their rationale was I needed to cope, and false expectations would stand in my way of rehabilitation. But hope is what kept me from committing suicide. Hope is what helps me fight through my chronic pain. And hope is what put me on the longevity path that could ultimately same millions of lives.

Volumes have been written on the purpose of life. There are as many opinions as there are philosophies. There may be a time when most agree, but probably not¦ at least not in the intermediate future. So far, here are some general views:

The purpose of life is¦

  • to realize one's potential and ideals
  • to achieve biological perfection
  • to seek wisdom and knowledge
  • to do good, to do the right thing
  • to attain spiritual enlightenment
  • to love, to feel, to enjoy the act of living
  • to have power, to be better

Then some people think:

  • One should not search for the meaning of life
  • Life has no meaning

Next week, I™ll tell you my opinion.


Don't forget that Aging 2008 will be held at UCLA, Los Angeles, starting on the 27th of this month:

"Applying the new technologies of regenerative and genetic medicine, the engineering approach to aging promises to dramatically extend healthy human life within the next few decades. How do you and your loved ones stand to benefit from the coming biomedical revolution? Are you prepared? Is society prepared? At Aging 2008 you will engage with top scientists and advocates as they present their findings and advice, and learn what you can do to help accelerate progress towards a cure for the disease and suffering of aging."

It™s unlikely such a powerful group of longevity scientists will gather all at once in southern California for a very long time. And it™s FREE.


What will it take to develop the therapies to repair the damage of aging in old mice - essentially to rejuvenate those mice, giving them a more time in youthful health and vigor after they had already become old? The present rough estimate is a billion dollars and ten years of work, which is a lot of money, but also a small fraction of what is wasted by governments around the world each month. Still, it's a big, scary number: what does a billion dollars over ten years actually mean in terms of warm bodies, concrete and conferences?

"It turns out to represent something like 500 researchers, plus resources for equipment, facilities and support staff, if you keep things lean and distributed, making the best use of existing research facilities and ongoing programs. If you apply the 1:9:90 rule to a research community, you can expect that a 500-scientist strong group will include perhaps 5 researchers who are very respected and appear in the media in connection with their research, 50 who are well known in the field and very capable, and the remaining 445 ranging from research associates to skilled scientists yet to reach the heights of their careers. This community might take the form of ten dedicated laboratories at large universities, a few for-profit enterprises, and more than fifty significant initiatives within other large research organizations. For comparison, that is considerably larger than the present calorie restriction research community but considerably smaller than either the cancer or Alzheimer's research community."

At the present time, and setting aside the regenerative medicine community, I would be surprised to find more than 50 researchers worldwide working directly on biotechnologies necessary to rejuvenation in mice. Viewing the cup half empty, we have a long way to go yet. Viewing the cup half full, the seed of a rejuvenation research community is already sprouting, and these early days are the slowest part of the curve - progress will accelerate from here on out.


I am optimistic that the present direction of the large and energetic stem cell research community will lead to solid initiatives to repair the biochemical damage of aging in stem cells and stem cell niches. The drive to clinical application is presently focused on stem cell therapies for age-related conditions, such as heart disease, and researchers recognize that the effectiveness of their therapies is degraded by age-damaged tissues and bodily systems:

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