Friday, January 07, 2005

Outline proposal for an Institute of Biomedical Gerontology

"The most efficient approach to developing ENS will be by a coordinated 'Manhattan Project' in which substantial funds are targeted appropriately and systematically. This may be best achieved by setting up a research institute in which much of the work would be done. This page summarises my current vision of how such an institute would work, why it is the best use of a billion dollars, and what main projects it would oversee. I have tried to write it in a form that could be shown to people who might be interested in providing such capital (or a substantial proportion of it) over ten years. If you know such a person, please show it to them!"

The "Manhattan Project" research model is certainly a good idea (as exemplified by the success of the Apollo program), but I've seen it fail. Throwing bales of money at a biomedical problem in no way promises results, even though it's surprisingly easy to get caught up in the excitement and assume otherwise.

For example, in the mid-90s members of the cryonics community (such as it was) launched the "Prometheus Project," intended to lower a canine's core temperature to near-cryogenic levels and revive it without ill effects -- within a decade. That decade is over and as far as I know, while advances in tissue preservation have indeed been made, we have yet to put an animal as physiologically complex as a dog into reversable biostasis.

My stomach curls when I wonder how many dogs died in service to this effort -- that is, if it ever got off the ground in the first place.

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