Craig Venter and the life extension drive: blogterview questions

venterpimmOne strategy (call it Life Extension Gets Personal) to raise awareness for the idea and technology of healthy life extension is to publicly encourage life extension “coming outs” on behalf of mainstream celebrities. In order to get an academic legitimacy for LE (which is one of the most important aim of Pimm) I am interested specially mainstream or at least well established scientific celebrities. To accomplish this project a man needs to identify target persons to interview (finding hints that the person is positive about LE), contacting these persons and publish the final piece somewhere.

As a first target Craig Venter, the genomics pioneer seemed unconventional and free minded enough to approach with the idea of a LE blogterview. On the other hand I found definite signs of his interest in longevity and life extension suggesting that if Craig Venter had been given a technological-medical chance to extend his healthy lifespan significantly he would definitely not like to die due to accumulating functional declines associated with aging within the next, say hundred years. Maybe I am wrong here, maybe I am not but to figure this situation out I translated these signs into the following blogterview questions and tried to contact him in early December, 2007. So far I reached only his nice and diplomatic PR agent, who said that maybe we have a chance to get the blogterview done in the near future. Till we get there below please find my targeted questions to Craig Venter:

1. Once I’ve read somewhere but was unable to recall later that one particular motivation behind the sequencing of your own genome was your serious life extension commitment and the belief that genomics has something to say about life expectancy. Is it true? If yes, what is the story of your life extension commitment? Is it a commitment for moderate or maximum life extension? In A Life Decoded I’ve found only one paragraph in your molecular biography explicitly on Long Life about the I405V of the CETP gene but no more hint on this important topic.

2. What do you think about Aubrey de Grey’s SENS approach? You’ve been one of the judges on the The SENS Challenge Prize organized by the Technology Review in 2005 for those “who could prove that SENS was “so wrong that it is unworthy of learned debate.” ? Who got the point there?

3. What do you think about the mitochondrial theory of aging? I was a little surprised when I’ve found that your circa 16.5kb mitochondrial DNA sequence was not published in the PLOS Biology paper: The Diploid Genome Sequence of an Individual Human Obviously it is not part of the diploid genome but I expected it at least as an appendix as those 37 genes and D-loop region can give important genetic information. Have your mitochondrial genome been sequenced already?

4. In a recent Rolling Stone interview you are saying that “There is probably nothing more important to study about human biology than stem cells.” What do you think about regenerative medicine’s role in a robust and healthy life extension technology?

5. There are some celebrity Baby Boomers most notably Ray Kurzweil who are lifestyle life extensionists.
Isn’t it too late for the Baby Boomers to participate in any serious lifespan extension experiment?

6. Out of the many “aging” definition out there which do you think is the most accurate and useful?

7. What is your favourite argument supporting human life extension?

8. What do you think how big could be The life extension bonus effect of personal genome services?

9. How can genomics and stem cell science meet when it is about aging and lifespan extension?

10. What do you think is the most probable technological draft of robust human life extension, which technology or discipline has the biggest chance to reach it earliest?


6 thoughts on “Craig Venter and the life extension drive: blogterview questions

  1. If I was a celeb I would come out as a LE, but I am out and not a celeb. Sorry.

    Look at founders of big tech companies like MS and Google. They seem the most likely to “come out” and have the least to lose by doing so.

    Heck Peter Thiel would probably give you an interview about LE if he has time.

  2. Thanks for your comment. To target IT guys with biotech and life extension: I am doing this for a while now.
    But now I’d like to move to mainstream scientists as even if we have enough money to conduct research with LE motivation thanks to IT supporters we still lack enough academic background to come up enough quality ideas and experiments.
    Peter Thiel: yeah, he is a flagship LE supporter, so not a “coming out” category. But maybe it is worth doing an interview with him on his commitment.

  3. While I think many main stream scientists support LE, it could still be career suicide for them to say so. Because aging is not defined as a disease by the FDA they could lose funding for just mentioning it.

    There are still lots of people like Leon Kass in the process. For now the scientists will keep saying they are researching Diabetes or Alzheimer’s, ect.

    Hopefully the up coming generation of researches will not be constrained by these things.

    Good luck on getting the LE meme into the established scientific community. Maybe someone like PZ Myers would be a good target. I have tried to get him to comment on Transhumanism before with no luck.

  4. Hey, this is a great initiative! If you do get responses, it would be worth trying to publish them somewhere prominent, but of course you will need to ask for the permission of those you interview…

    If you’re aiming for publication, I would rephrase some of the questions:

    Q4: “In a recent Rolling Stone interview you were quoted saying “There is probably nothing more important to study about human biology than stem cells.” What do you think about regenerative medicine’s role in a robust and healthy life extension technology?”

    Q6: “Out of the many “aging” definitions out there, which do you think is the most accurate and useful?”

    Q7 is too loaded, I would either drop it, rephrase it to be “what is your favorite argument for or/against life extension”, or add a second question of “what is your favorite argument against life extension, if any?”.

    Q8: “What is the life extension potential for personal genome services?”

    Q9: “How can genomics and stem cell science meet to advance aging research and lifespan extension?”

    Q10: “What technological draft for robust human life extension do you think has the best chance of success?”

  5. There are still lots of people like Leon Kass in the process. For now the scientists will keep saying they are researching Diabetes or Alzheimer’s, ect.

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