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: What are the driving forces behind mankind?
Aubrey de Grey: I think that certainly there is a very strong survival instinct that is apparent in all people. But the … of that survival instinct … Some people are less risk averse than others. And we can go further. There have been some very interesting studies recently looking at things like the history of violence, of how the world’s become less violent. In most parts of the world people have become more affluent and more able to control their lives. And also with regard to … It’s a very interesting story from Chicago on the adherence to lifestyle modifications that will minimize the risk of getting AIDS. There are stories that have been done in Africa – … Africa – that have found that the countries that adhere best to these regimes are ones in which other causes of death are relatively low. So it’s … quantity … quality of life determined the perceived value of life, and therefore the percep … the efforts that one goes to, to make sure that one’s life doesn’t end prematurely. I think …You know, I think … a good deal that … it’s … It’s a complicated question, but I think this is the way that life is going to proceed in the future as well. But as we gain more control over our ability to live longer, we will perceive the value of life to matter a great deal more.
Recorded on: 6/22/07