Investment mogul Jim Mellon has donated a record-breaking 1 million British pounds to Oriel College in the United Kingdom, offering a ray of light for aging research.
Supporting fundamental research on aging
In recent years, one of the real dynamos of our community has been British investor and philanthropist Jim Mellon. Jim is perhaps best known for his investment support of promising aging-focused biotech companies through his company Juvenescence, which has invested in rising stars such as Lygenesis, AgeX, and Insilico Medicine.
Jim has also been actively involved in the community and is frequently seen attending various aging research conferences, rallying investors to help build the fledgling but steadily growing rejuvenation industry, lobbying government, and supporting basic research on aging.
Today’s story is an example of the latter, as Jim has stepped up to support the fundamental aging research happening in the United Kingdom, which has been an important hub for this sort of research. We are happy to learn that Jim has generously donated £1 million for the support of longevity research at Oriel College, which is part of Oxford University. This donation establishes the Mellon Longevity Science Program at Oriel College with the aim of advancing research into health resilience in the elderly.
Jim’s donation will directly support the research of Professor Lynne Cox, a George Moody Fellow in Biochemistry at Oriel and a principal investigator within the Department of Biochemistry. The Cox lab is studying the molecular basis of human aging with the goal of reducing age-related morbidity and frailty though improving health resilience. This could include researching therapies for strategies such as boosting the immune systems of older people in order to help them maintain health as well as reducing the effects of sarcopenia and frailty with advancing age to improve quality of life.
Jim’s stated reasons for supporting Oriel College are as follows:
There has never been a more important time to address the frailty of human health. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the huge economic and social costs connected to the lack of immune resilience in our increasingly ageing population and the need for greater scientific research into this area.
Boosting immunoresilience among the most vulnerable in society and advancing healthspan are critical to helping more people reach their potential as well as, more urgently, improving our collective resilience in the face of future pandemics. Oxford’s leadership in the field of research and understanding of the ageing process makes it a natural home to advance longevity science and support the growth of the longevity industry, and I am proud to support this work.
In addition, the donation will also allow the creation of a DPhil scholarship in Aging and Cell Senescence at Oriel College. The plan is that the first recipient of the DPhil scholarship will join the College for the 2020-21 academic year and will help foster a future generation of aging researchers to join the existing leaders in the field.
This donation is a record breaker in the context of aging research at a UK university, making Oriel, and Oxford in general, a real hub for this line of scientific inquiry. Oxford University has long had links to the rejuvenation research community, as it was the scene of a 2012 debate between Dr. Aubrey de Grey and Professor Colin Blakemoor over the desirability of increasing healthy human lifespans, the conclusion of which was somewhat undecided at the time.
We cannot help but wonder how the audience would vote now given the passage of eight years and much more progress in the field. Perhaps this is something we might consider offering in the future as part of our ongoing series of discussion panels.
Obviously, we welcome this news with enthusiasm, and we once again congratulate Jim for his continued support and generosity in support of the field. At a time when many economies are facing great challenges, this money will provide a real shot in the arm for aging research.