The Longevity Science Foundation has launched today. This new Swiss foundation has confirmed that it will be committing over $1 billion in the next ten years to research, institutions, and projects advancing healthy human longevity and extending the healthy human lifespan to more than 120 years.
We had the opportunity to speak to Garri Zmudze, the Executive Coordinator at the Longevity Science Foundation, about the launch.
Is the foundation starting with a pool of capital to disburse, or are you currently in the process of raising funds?
The foundation starts with a certain pool of funds, which has been pre-committed by our early adopters but enters a fundraising mode in parallel.
Can you explain more about how donations and voting works?
We will be releasing a separate announcement and a paper explaining our governance/voting mechanism. In short, we want to empower our donators to participate in the final funding decisions, once the candidates have been pre-vetted by our DD team and the Visionary Board.
How does IP work in this new foundation?
The Foundation does not claim any IP in the projects funded, and it does not claim any equity.
It sounds like you are going to focus on translational research. What are the current barriers that our field faces to getting therapies against aging into the clinic, and how will the foundation be helping overcome those barriers?
We believe that a key ingredient to provide the longevity space with a qualitative push is to be able to fund early-stage research, which can be then developed to the stage of being differentiable as a potential therapy/product and, thus, be eligible for venture funding. By increasing the amount of such cases, you are ultimately stimulating the risk capital inflow in the industry as well as multiplying the amount of early-stage ventures en route to their clinical validation.
We, therefore, believe that the key barrier is lack of transparent, equity-free funding for early-stage longevity tech, which is not yet eligible for venture funding yet needs capital to define a distinguishable therapy/product to work on.
You state that you are “seeking to fund projects that can make a significant difference in people’s lives as soon as possible.” So, therapy-wise, what do you consider the low-hanging fruit that can deliver in this short timeframe?
One can name several, starting from senescent cell research or immune-oncology, as well as epigenetic reprogramming and other longevity-specific tech domains. We really, however, do not differentiate therapies in terms of more or less promising, as a lot of fields in longevity can be considered potentially equally impactful, provided that these are supported by early funding. The Foundation’s Visionary Board shall clearly identify the areas that we will prioritize in our first project call.
What about more ambitious approaches, such as partial cellular reprogramming, which are likely decades away but may lead to big gains in healthy lifespan?
As noted, they are of equal importance for us to support. The eligibility for funding fundamentally depends on the clear strategy presented by the research team, a strong background and IP position, as well as a well-defined vision. We do, therefore, urge the groups working on “decades away” approaches to consider us to support them.
September 30, 2021 – Zug, Switzerland – A consortium of biotech founders, clinicians, and leading longevity research institutions announced today the launch of the Longevity Science Foundation. The new Swiss foundation has committed to distributing more than $1 billion over the next ten years to research, institutions and projects advancing healthy human longevity and extending the healthy human lifespan to more than 120 years.
The Foundation is advised by a Visionary Board of leading longevity researchers, led by Evelyne Bischof and joined by Andrea B. Maier, Eric Verdin, Matt Kaeberlein, and Alex Zhavoronkov.
The Longevity Science Foundation will provide funding to promising longevity research institutions and groups around the world. The focus of the Foundation will be to select support projects in four major areas of healthy longevity medicine and tech – therapeutics, personalised medicine, AI, and predictive diagnostics. The Foundation is seeking to fund projects that can make a significant difference in people’s lives as soon as possible – even within five years.
One of the main focuses of the Foundation is in driving longevity medicine from theoretical concepts to real-world applications. The Foundation’s donations will support the transformation of scientific findings and deep technological advances into treatments and solutions that can be used in the clinic today. By identifying and funding the most promising and cutting-edge advances, the Foundation seeks to address one of the most pressing issues in the science and applicability of longevity medicine – radical inequality in accessing and understanding longevity-focused treatment. Significant funding gaps remain an obstacle to bringing longevity medicine out of the laboratory and into the real world.
“The symbiotic efforts of the Foundation are a splendid chance for the field of Longevity Medicine to argue its position as a novel, most progressive and crucial medical specialty, as well as to accelerate the bridging of the gap between the gerosciences and the clinic. This includes advancing a patient-centered and personalised approach. After all, we are all patients suffering from aging, and as such we should all be engaged in finding a solution,” said Evelyne Yehudit Bischof, chairman of the Visionary Board for the Longevity Science Foundation and renowned longevity physician at Human Longevity Inc.
“The Longevity Science Foundation enables the rapid acceleration of basic science of human longevity and its translation towards human trials and clinical practice. In 5 years, healthy longevity will not only exist as a lab-proven concept, but will become part of everyone’s life,” said Andrea B. Maier, member of the Visionary Board and co-director of the Centre for Healthy Longevity at the National University of Singapore.
“Age is the greatest risk factor for nearly every major cause of death and disability in developed nations. Therapeutically targeting biological aging is key to fulfilling the promise of 21-st century medicine, and the Foundation is poised to play a central role in making this a reality,” said Matt Kaeberlein, CEO of the American Aging Association and Professor at the University of Washington, where he leads several major initiatives including the NIH Nathan Shock Center of Excellence in the Basic Biology of Aging and the Healthy Aging and Longevity (HALO) Research Institute.
Alex Zhavoronkov, Visionary Board member and an expert in AI-powered drug discovery noted that “the Foundation has created a unique and transparent mechanism for boosting early longevity research worldwide and ensuring mass public participation in decision making. This approach finally allows us to speak about getting closer to the idea of mass adoption of longevity ideas and treatments.”
“This new Foundation comes at a particularly important time to support the rapidly growing field of aging research. We have more possible targets than we can follow. The Foundation will allow our field to initiate new lines of investigation in aging research and to pursue them all the way to the clinic with the ultimate goal of increasing healthspan and lifespan in humans,” said Eric Verdin, Visionary Board Member and CEO and President of the Buck Institute.
The Foundation will also empower people from all over the world to directly support the development of longevity research. All contributors to the foundation will receive voting rights as part of their donation and will be able to help decide which projects receive funding. All projects will be first pre-selected by the Foundation’s board and evaluated for their technical soundness and potential impact on human longevity. The Foundation will also research essential topics in longevity research and share findings with the public to enhance awareness of longevity care and available treatments.
About the Longevity Science Foundation
The Longevity Science Foundation is a Swiss non-profit organisation advancing human longevity by funding research and development of medical technologies to extend the healthy human lifespan to more than 120 years. The long-term mission of the Longevity Science Foundation is to help make longevity-focused care accessible to everyone, no matter their background, by bringing cutting-edge science on aging out of the laboratory and into the mainstream. To learn more, visit www.longevity.foundation.
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October 2, 2021
This appears to be the year of new foundations funding aging. Each one has a slightly different focus which will enable various approaches at various stages to flourish. Very exciting!
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