SRF’s executive team includes cofounder Dr. Aubrey de Grey, the visionary behind SENS, and Jim O’Neill, a pioneer in the rejuvenation biotechnology field. Together they lead the foundation into a second decade of aging research and technology.
When I started this Foundation with Aubrey, I was simply hoping to have a small role in a lasting revolution. My work with other companies in aging had made one unfortunate fact increasingly clear: despite all of our advances in diagnosis, treatment, and management, the social and economic costs for all age-related disease were rising steeply. Today, we call this the conundrum of a system that provides ‘sick care’ instead of ‘health care.’ But it seemed clear enough even then (and especially after meeting Aubrey) that the antidote was to use the enormous resources of our healthcare system to learn how to intervene in the underlying causes of such disease, rather than chase the resulting pathologies.
Quite frankly, at the time I feared that this challenge was beyond the purview of one small group called SRF. But I was underestimating the commitment, the energy, the intellectual honesty, and the vision of all the people that I’ve had the good fortune to work with here. Today, SENS Research Foundation has helped precipitate a real change, and we now see significant energy and investment pouring into the rejuvenation field … in no small part because of those people.
Dr. de Grey is the biomedical gerontologist who devised the SENS platform, and established SENS Research Foundation to implement it. He received his BA in Computer Science and Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Cambridge in 1985 and 2000, respectively. Dr. de Grey is Editor-in-Chief of Rejuvenation Research, is a Fellow of both the Gerontological Society of America and the American Aging Association, and sits on the editorial and scientific advisory boards of numerous journals and organizations.
Our goals could be described in terms of science and also in terms of community. In terms of science, the goals are clearly to pursue the development of medicines that would turn back the clock of aging, to actually develop medicines that will genuinely rejuvenate the body by restoring the molecular and cellular structure and composition of the body to something like how it is in early adulthood. However, I never felt that this was something that SENS Research Foundation or any organization that I would be leading would do on its own. We are the pioneers; we are the engine room of all of this. The credibility of the overall goal has become increasingly clear, and more and more people are getting involved. And that might cause SRF to grow but it also causes other organizations and other individuals to come along into the mission and get involved in their own ways including in the private sector. Even at the start, I used to say that my basic goal was to become unnecessary.
Jim has advised, invested in, and nurtured more than sixty science and technology companies. While running the Thiel Foundation, he co-founded the Thiel Fellowship and helped create deep science fund Breakout Labs. Thiel Fellows have created more than $35 billion in equity value by founding companies including Freenome, Luminar, Figma, Cabin, Upstart, OYO, Ethereum, Workflow, Fossa, and the Longevity Fund. Before moving to California, Jim helped lead the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as the principal associate deputy secretary. His responsibilities included overseeing policy and regulations at NIH, FDA, and CDC and he led two major reforms of FDA. He also supported the creation of the Armed Forces Institute for Regenerative Medicine, served on the steering committee of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, and represented the United States on the U.S. delegation to the World Health Assembly.