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 do you do?
Aubrey de Grey: The best way to describe what I do as a biologist is to start by describing what I don’t do. Because there’s one big thing that nearly all biologists do that I don’t do which is experiments. I don’t have my own laboratory. I never have had. I don’t even have training in experimental work. So I work as what, in physics, would be called a theoretician – a theoretical biologist. I bring my ideas together. I take the ideas and the results that other people have generated in the laboratory, and I come up with new proposals for experiments … both experiments to understand aging better, and also experiments to combat aging. And I … I’m able to do this in a manner that experimental biologists are less able to do simply because I have more time. Because experiments are very time consuming. Just the same way that in physics, there are a lots of people who do that – who spend their time bringing ideas together, and who work symbiotically with the experimentalists – that should be the same with biology. In biology, however, it turns out that very, very few people work on the synthesis side. And actually that’s one of the big reasons that I chose to go into the field, because I felt I could make a big contribution simply because there were so few other people trying to do the same thing.