In October, H.E. Justin Sun, founder of the blockchain DAO ecosystem TRON, announced his donation to The Longevity Prize, a series of prizes designed to boost longevity science. In so doing, he has joined the ranks of other crypto entrepreneurs interested in the evolving field. In this interview, he tells Lifespan.io more about why he decided to donate to longevity, how it caught his interest, and his plans for the future.
When did you first hear about longevity science?
I first heard of longevity science from my professor in Peking University when I was still a college student. It was very intriguing to me since it was my first time hearing about this subject.
We each have our own story. Could you tell our readers what it was that was so interesting to you about longevity at this time? What caught your attention?
Longevity is just fascinating! I remember learning in the classroom that Ocean Quahogs, a species of clams, could live more than 400 years old. That’s way beyond the typical human lifespan! This caught my attention because it shows that longevity already exists in the wild, and there are many discoveries that are yet to be made on it.
What got you interested in donating to the field?
I got interested in investing in the field because I heard that VitaDAO was involved in creating the Longevity Prize as an alternative to traditional research funding. [VitaDAO is an innovative DAO platform utilizing crypto technology to help fund longevity initiatives.]
That’s great! Perhaps you could tell us a little more about your interest in VitaDAO?
I like the idea that VitaDAO is focused on community-owned, collective funding, early-stage longevity research. It feels more engaging than traditional research funding.
Why did you choose to donate to the Longevity Prize?
I chose to support the Longevity Prize because I know there are great discoveries on the brink of realization and I feel that researchers need more support. Humans have solved some of the most challenging problems we can possibly imagine! I just hope to do my part to bring together the brightest minds to hack the aging code.
What is it personally that makes you feel that aging is something that science should attempt to slow down or even reverse?
I personally feel that life is the most precious thing in this universe and that extending the average lifespan will change the world beyond our imagination.
What are your hopes for longevity science in the future? What do you think is achievable?
I hope there will be some sort of a major breakthrough in longevity research that would truly enable humans to live longer. Perhaps, 20-30 years more than the current average lifespan would be achievable.
This isn’t your first brush with longevity. Could you tell us a little bit more about the Ether Rock story?
This $51K investment is my first investment in longevity. I know it sounds absurd to spend half a million dollars to purchase a “picture of a rock.” But the Ether Rock is just like Picasso in 1932, which was misunderstood at the time. I think that research in longevity is the same and that it will take decades for the public to take notice of its significance. The beginning of the NFTs and the Ether Rock might not be understandable by people outside of crypto, but I believe those NFTs are going to become more precious in the future as long as the industry continues to grow.
It seems more and more people from the crypto world are investing in and donating to longevity. Do you think this is a coincidence? Why do you think this is?
I don’t think this is a coincidence. I think this is because blockchain technologies have shown that it can provide users with safety and assurance which is also necessary for longevity research when it comes to application.
Have any particular personalities inspired your interest in longevity? If so, why?
Yes, Albert Einstein has inspired my interest in longevity because there were many studies and debates on what percentage of his brain Einstein used in his lifetime. Had he lived longer, perhaps it would have benefited mankind with other possible inventions.
Medical progress is unlikely to stand still in that 20-30 years. It may mean breakthroughs to increase the human lifespan even further are discovered. Are you open to the idea that humans might eventually live even longer than this, perhaps even indefinitely?
Yes, I’m open to this idea.
What research area do you believe could have the biggest chance to succeed in the near future (3-5 years)? And in the longer-term (10-20 years)?
I think therapeutic technologies will definitely see success in the near future. For the long term, I think we might be able to succeed in replicating the longevity research successes that we had in animals for humans.
Can you give us an example of a near future technology/approach that you think could work?
There is some research on creating miniature MRI machines that could allow much easier access for patients to get an MRI. Companies like Promaxo and Hyperfine are working to bring this to the mass market. This would be a near-term solution to greatly improve medical access and help humans to live longer and healthier.
Do you plan to continue to invest in longevity science?
Yes, I am keen on helping out the longevity science community as much as I can.
Anything you can tell us about at this time?
I think creating awareness is just as important as investing.
Is there anything you want to tell our readers before we go?
The goal is to slow the pace of aging and even reverse the clock — this is possible in animals already. Longevity therapies mean we will live longer and in better health. So, longevity research will definitely benefit all of us.