I have just returned home from the Undoing Aging conference in Berlin, where we spent three days listening to talks by the top researchers in aging, meeting some of the finest minds in research, and talking with thought leaders in the field.
There was a great deal of new and exciting research being presented, some of which has not been published and so cannot be discussed. We will be publishing articles on this news in the coming days as we edit the audio and video from the event. Today, however, instead of discussing research per se, I’ll talk about my impressions of the event.
This was my first conference on aging, and I have to say that I was really impressed with the professional presentation and venue. I have been to many video game conferences in my life, and I have to say it was on par with such events, albeit on a somewhat smaller scale.
Located in downtown Berlin and close to some amazing tourist attractions, the venue was hosted in a large multi-levelled building that was once a power station. The lectures took place in a large auditorium with a gallery, and the lower floors were places to eat, drink, and network with the myriad guests at the event.
So firstly, hats off to the Forever Healthy Foundation and SENS Research Foundation for putting on such a great event, and I am delighted to hear that they will be back next year with Undoing Aging 2019, so I am looking forward to going again.
Secondly, for me, the event was a wonderful opportunity to meet the brightest minds in science along with some of the greatest people in the field for me personally: my fellow LEAF team members. It may be somewhat surprising that we are not all based in the same office in New York City and that we have not all met each other in person, but it is true.
I have worked with Elena Milova for over two years and yet had never met her in person, so for me, a real highlight of the event was to finally meet a colleague who I have spent so many months working with and yet never physically met. I am pleased to say that just as we get along like a house on fire via the internet, the same was true in person.
It was also great to meet Keith Comito, our president, as he has been a real inspiration and the backbone of LEAF and the driving force behind what we do. Without his vision and his hand on the tiller, I can honestly say that we would not be doing what we are doing today, and it was great to finally meet him.
Thirdly, the high calibre of researchers and advocates there was impressive. This was very much a gathering of many of the major thought leaders in the rejuvenation research community, both scientists and advocates alike.
I appreciated being able to meet Jim Mellon, co-author of the book Juvenescence, and having the chance to talk to him about his book and progress in the field. I also enjoyed meeting Kelsey Moody from Ichor Therapeutics, which is developing SENS-based technologies to treat age-related blindness.
Meeting Steve Horvath was also a major highlight for me; his epigenetic clocks are the gold standard of aging biomarkers, and discussing his work with him was fascinating. He also had a similarly fascinating presentation on finding effective biomarkers of aging, which is an urgent matter and critical to the success of our field.
However, I met so many great people there that this would be far too long an article if I were to mention them all. It is also probably pretty obvious that meeting Michael Greve and Dr. Aubrey de Grey was high up there on my large list of highlights. I really appreciated the kind words of praise Aubrey had for me when we met in person during the event and as I said in return, if it was not for him we would not all be doing what we do. To meet him was a real honor despite having worked with him many times via the internet.
Finally, I have perceived a real sea change in the movement, and this was very much apparent at the event. The highly credible researchers, the lack of snake oil and pseudoscience, and the quality of the advocates attending all added up to create a serious and scientific event worthy of the field. It is great to see that the movement is distancing itself from the stigma of snake oil, and this event was a vindication of the fact that what we are doing is serious and credible science. We have been plagued for decades by hucksters and pseudoscience, and it is my sincere hope that more events like this will continue to help separate the science from the snake oil.
The research is also turning a real corner now; as UNITY has announced that human trials of senolytics will begin shortly, and other therapies are poised to do the same, we are finally at the point where some of the technologies that visionaries like Dr. Aubrey de Grey had proposed over a decade ago are now in striking distance.
In closing, I would like to thank the Forever Healthy Foundation and the SENS Research Foundation for making this event possible and for helping LEAF to be a part of what is quickly becoming a great scientific movement for a healthier future. See you all at Undoing Aging 2019!