Aubrey de Grey, PhD, is Chairman and Chief Science Officer of the Methuselah Foundation. The core of his research is the identification of all forms of cellular and molecular damage whose accumulation contributes to human aging, and the design of interventions to remove, repair, replace, or render harmless all such damage so as to arrest or even reverse the biological aging process. He has published extensively on these and other areas of gerontology in the scientific literature, and is also Editor-in-Chief of the high-impact journal Rejuvenation Research, the only peer-reviewed academic journal focusing on intervention in aging.
Question: Do you have a creative process?
Aubrey de Grey: There’s a learning process in becoming a good researcher. I became a good researcher when I was looking to be a scientist. And that was something I was able to take into the biology field when I chose to become a gerontologist. Now a lot of the research process is understanding yourself … understanding your own mind, because sometimes you can know too much to be able to have a good idea. You can be encumbered by conventional wisdom. And you need to know when to step back and pace up and down, and talk to yourself for half an hour … when you might ought to go to a particular conference just to get a bunch of new knowledge … when you ought to read a bit … things like that. So you have to get an innate feel for that. It’s not something that can really be articulated and taught. However, in switching from one field to another, it’s important to emphasize that this has a very long and distinguished track record of success in research – people who switch, making big contributions more or less at once – because they are unencumbered by conventional wisdom. They have been trained in a different field, so they know how to research. Research is a very transferrable skill. But you come in, you know only enough but not too much. And you can come up with new ways of looking at things.
Recorded on: 6/22/07