Rejuvenation Biotechnology 2014 “Molecular and Cellular Damage as the Cause of the Diseases of Aging Panel” Panel Discussion (August 21, 2014, 10:30am)
This panel discussed the idea that the diseases of aging stem from molecular and cellular damage that accrues with age. Topics of discussion included the types of damage that may be involved, examples of how this applies to one or more diseases, and thoughts on how basic research and industry could use this concept to drive therapeutic target identification and drug treatment/development.
• Richard Barker, Director, Center for the Advancement of Sustainable Medical Innovation (Moderator)
• Aubrey de Grey, Co-Founder and Chief Science Officer, SENS Research Foundation
• Caleb Finch, ARCO/Kieschnick Professor of Gerontology and Biological Science and University Professor, USC Davis School of Gerontology
• Jeff Karp, Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School, Co-Director of the Center for Regenerative Therapeutics, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
• Stephen Minger, Chief Scientist, Cellular Sciences, GE Healthcare Life Sciences, UK
Rejuvenation Biotechnology 2014 Cancer Session (August 22, 2014, 1:00pm)
“Curing Cancer in the Elderly Through Novel Strategies”
Presenter: Claudia Gravekamp, Associate Professor, Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
Claudia Gravekamp, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, and a member of the Albert Einstein Cancer Center. She received her PhD in 1988 in the field of Tumor Immunology at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. From 1987 to 1993, she served as head of the Laboratory for Leptospirosis at the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. In 1993, she started as a Research Fellow in Medicine at the Channing Laboratory of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and soon became an Instructor in Medicine until 1998. There, she developed vaccines against Group B Streptococcus and gained expertise in the design and development of gene-driven vaccines. From 1998 to 2006, she was an Associate Member in the Institute for Drug Development of the Cancer Therapy and Research Center and an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center, in San Antonio, where she began to develop a program aimed at genetic vaccines for breast cancer.
From 2006-2008, she was a Scientist at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute in San Francisco, continuing to develop novel immunotherapeutic approaches to cancer using attenuated Listeria monocytogenes as a platform to deliver anti-cancer agents selectively to the tumor microenvironment at young and old age. She has been funded by grants from the NIH, other grant agencies and private industry since 1999, published 55 scientific articles, is a member of the Editorial Board of Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, and is ad-hoc reviewer for various scientific journals.
“Molecular Elucidation and Engineering of Stem Cell Therapies for the Nervous System”
Presenter: David Schaffer, Professor, University of California, Berkeley, Director, Berkeley Stem Cell Center.
David Schaffer is a Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Bioengineering, and Neuroscience at University of California, Berkeley, where he also serves as the Director of the Berkeley Stem Cell Center. He graduated from Stanford University with a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering in 1993. Afterward, he attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology and earned his Ph.D. also in Chemical Engineering in 1998. Finally, he did a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Fred Gage at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, CA before moving to UC Berkeley in 1999.
At Berkeley, Dr. Schaffer applies engineering principles to enhance stem cell and gene therapy approaches for neuroregeneration, work that includes novel approaches for molecular engineering and evolution of new viral vectors as well as new technologies to investigate and control stem cell fate decisions.
David Schaffer has received an NSF CAREER Award, Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, Whitaker Foundation Young Investigator Award, and was named a Technology Review Top 100 Innovator. He was also awarded the Biomedical Engineering Society Rita Shaffer Young Investigator Award in 2000, the American Chemical Society BIOT Division Young Investigator Award in 2006, and was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering in 2010.
Rejuvenation Biotechnology 2014 Cancer Session (August 22, 2014, 1:00pm) “Cancer and Aging: Rival Demons?”
Presenter: Judith Campisi, Professor, Buck Institute for Research on Aging.
Judith Campisi received a PhD in Biochemistry from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and postdoctoral training in cell cycle regulation and cancer at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School. As an Assistant Professor at the Boston University Medical School, she began to focus her laboratory on role of cellular senescence in suppressing the development cancer, but soon became convinced that senescent cells also contributed to aging. She left Boston University as an Associate Professor to accept a Senior Scientist position at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 1991. In 2002, she established a laboratory at the Buck Institute for Age Research, where she is a Professor.
At both institutions, Campisi established a broad program to understand various aspects of aging, with an emphasis on the interface between cancer and aging. Her laboratory made several pioneering discoveries in these areas.
In recognition of the quality of her research and leadership, Campisi received numerous awards, including two MERIT awards from the US National Institute on Aging, awards from the AlliedSignal Corporation, Gerontological Society of America and American Federation for Aging Research, and the Longevity prize from the IPSEN Foundation. She serves on numerous national and international editorial and advisory boards.
Anticipating Tomorrow’s Politics - By Transpolitica, lead editor: David W. Wood.
An unconditional basic income (also called basic income, basic income guarantee, universal basic income, universal demogrant, or citizen’s income) is a form of social security system in which all citizens or residents of a country regularly receive an unconditional sum of money, either from a government or some other public institution, in addition to any income received from elsewhere.
I was taken aback- to say the least – by an article from the New York Times that crossed my Twitter feed today that suggested wearable electronics like the new Apple Watch could be has harmful as smoking: Could Wearable Computers Be as Harmful as Cigarettes? http://t.co/JvM1mnR2Tz — NYT Styles (@NYTStyles) March 18, 2015 (Tweet has since been deleted)
These three short stories all come from the same Cory Doctorow collection, Overclocked: Stories of the Future Present (New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press, 2007). Free download here. The three are all set against a background of what I call the “DRM Curtain,” a transnational corporate Empire based on artificial scarcities enforced through a maximalist version “intellectual property” rights, promoted through trade deals written and lobbied by the proprietary content industries, and ultimately backed by the military force of the American state.
William Lane Craig has a pretty dispiriting take on the atheistic view of life: If there is no God, then man and the universe are doomed. Like prisoners condemned to death, we await our unavoidable execution. There is no God, and there is no immortality. And what is the consequence of this? It means that life itself is absurd. It means that the life we have is without ultimate significance, value or purpose. (Craig 2008, 72)
Recently a group of scientists and an industry group have issued statements calling for a moratorium on human heritable or germline genetic modifications (see here, here and here), now that we have the powerful CRISPR technique to pursue them. These statements have been greeted rapturously by bioconservatives, who want to see a global ban on germline and enhancement genetic therapies. Of course, transhumanists have been thinking about these things for a long time, and the World Transhumanist Association (now known as Humanity+) adopted a formal position on human germline genetic modification ten years ago.
This is my second interview with William Hertling. The first time we met was at Greg Bear’s house near Seattle where we did both a 1on1 interview and a fantastic science fiction panel together with our host and Ramez Naam. So I suggest you start by watching those videos if you have not seen them yet because today we are going deeper into topics such as artificial intelligence and the technological singularity.
During our 70 min conversation with William we cover: his latest book The Turing Exception; a kill-switch for the internet and other ways to minimize the danger of AI; the impact of reading Our Final Invention; the need for creating AGI/ASI and the democratization of hardware needed to run it; whether it is AI or humanity itself that poses the greatest risk to our existence; science fiction as a social commentary; the importance of ethics; personal development and self-publishing; our chances of surviving the technological singularity…
(You can listen to/download the audio file above or watch the video interview in full. If you want to help me produce more high-quality episodes like this one please make a donation!)
Avogadro Corp won Forewords Review Science Fiction Book of the Year and A.I. Apocalypse was nominated for the Prometheus Award for Best Novel. The Last Firewall was endorsed by tech luminaries including Harper Reed (CTO for Obama Campaign), Ben Huh (CEO Cheezburger), and Brad Feld (Foundry Group).
William Hertling was born in Brooklyn, New York. He grew up a digital native in the early days of bulletin board systems. His first experiences with net culture occurred when he wired seven phone lines into the back of his Apple //e to build an online chat system. He currently resides in Portland, Oregon.
In his article, “What is the Difference between Posthumanism and Transhumanism?”, Kevin LaGrandeur sets out to clarify the meaning of the terms “posthuman”, “transhuman” and “posthumanism”. (http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/lagrandeur20141226) He notes that the relative newness of the terminology is a source of confusion among many who employ these terms.
What do emerging technologies mean for a developing economy like Nigeria? This is the second article in a series where I focus on the World Economic Forum’s list of the most promising emerging technologies for the year 2015. Here, I examine the implications of technological breakthroughs such as precise genetic engineering, additive manufacturing, and artificial intelligence, in developing economies such as Nigeria.
First of all, let’s draw a line between a strategy and wishful thinking. There are plenty of wonderful transhumanist projects. A viral video, a global portal, attracting celebrities, proof that aging is a disease, convincing billionaires, educational programs, letters to politicians, civil actions, participating in elections, creating a strong community, clinical trials of combinations of existing age delaying drugs on animals, TV shows, Hollywood blockbusters, creating a political committee, conferences on transhumanist topics, scientific megaproject on life extension, cryonics company, crowdfunding, a lot of startups relevant to transhumanist topics, active use of AI elements in all areas and so on .
The astronomer Carl Sagan is one of my intellectual heroes, and one of the great secularists of the twentieth-century. In 1989, after both Voyager spacecraft had passed Neptune and Pluto, Sagan wanted a last picture of Earth from “a hundred thousand times” as far away as the famous shots of Earth taken by the Apollo astronauts. No photo has ever put the human condition in better perspective; it is worth seeing and hearing at least once a year for the rest of one’s life. Thank you Carl Sagan.
“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”
Lyrics for the rap song, B.I.B.L.E. (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth), include the following line: The white image, of Christ, is really Cesare Borgia. The idea that our modern image of Jesus could be based on a ruthless power-hungry illegitimate son of a pope is startling and farfetched. But it is no more bizarre or fanciful than many other ideas about who Jesus was or what he looked like. And it does have an interesting tale behind it. To understand the Borgia story requires a bit of context.
Should prospective parents have to apply for parental licences? The argument seems obvious. Having children is a serious business. Negligent or irresponsible parents risk causing long-term harms to their offspring, harms that often have spillover effects on the rest of society. A licensing system should help us to filter out such parents. Therefore, a licensing system would benefit children and society at large. QED
Last Thursday, the second annual University of Michigan Innovation In Action competition concluded, with six stunning student pitches for startups that could make a significant dent on the health and well-being of communities. It was a great example of what can be achieved at the intersection of public health, entrepreneurship, and the creativity and energy that students can bring to real-world problems.
“At Death’s End”, written by James Blish (1921-1975), was published in the May 1954 issue of Astounding Science Fiction magazine. Surprisingly, this short story is still only accessible in hard copy, within the original Astounding Science Fiction edition. Apart from a brief review by Robert W. Franson, who introduced me to this work, there is today surprisingly little literary analysis devoted to “At Death’s End” – even though it offers a fascinating glimpse into how a science-fiction writer from an earlier era perceived the prospects for indefinite human longevity, from the vantage point of the scientific knowledge available at the time.
The above is a quote from Ynval Harari’s book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, which I reviewed last time. So that’s his view of history, but what of other fields specifically designed to give us a handle on the future, you know, the kinds of “future studies” futurists claim to be experts in, fields like scenario planning, or even some versions of science-fiction.
A National Academy of Sciences panel said that, with proper governance and other safeguards, we should commence more research on geoengineering — technologies that might let himanity deliberately intervene in nature to counter climate change. With the planet facing potentially severe impacts from global warming in coming decades, drastically reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases was by far the best way to mitigate the effects of a warming planet. But society would be foolish not to at least carefully commence small scale experiments looking into other means of reducing the net harm.
The campaign for the introduction of a universal basic income (UBI) has been gaining ground in recent years. What was once a slightly obscure proposal, beloved by certain political theorists and welfare reformists, is now being embraced as a potential solution to the threat of technological unemployment. I myself have written about it on several occasions, mainly focusing on different political and philosophical arguments in favour of its introduction.
Inspired by the debate over the effects of partisan tribalism on cognition we asked “Are liberals and people on the Left as cognitively biased as conservatives and people on the Right?” A plurality (42%) of the 150 respondents answered that “Leftists and liberals have some biases, but less than conservatives and the Right.”
Victor Frankl claimed that creative, productive work was one of the three main sources of meaning in human life. (The others are human relationships and bearing suffering nobly.) If the most meaningful lives entail meaningful work a number of questions arise. What kind of work is meaningful? Is meaningful work an objective or subjective notion? Can we find meaningful work in a capitalist economic system? Can we find meaningful work in any conditions?
What does it mean for the world to flow with light? Let's start this example of sousveillance in action… a professor and his students showcase where the FDA buried information about drug company misconduct. Now, the standard response to something like this is to build and then build some more upon our callouses of cynicism. Oh no, we see more villainy, proving that all institutions are corrupt! Instead of yes! We just caught some villainy! Proving that we can—with grinding but relentless hard work—improve our institutions, the way our parents and grandparents did!
Unwanted pregnancy is contributing to a new “caste system” in America. Is that about to get worse? When new and better technologies become available only to people who are already privileged, the rich get richer and opportunity gaps get wider. That’s exactly what’s happening with family planning—and unless trends change, a recent revolution in contraceptive technology may deepen America’s economic divide. Many factors intersect to create poverty or keep people mired there: racism, sexism, untreated illness and mental illness, hopelessness created by lack of opportunity, structural barriers between social classes, and more.
Rejuvenation Biotechnology 2014
“Regulating a Damage Repair Approach to Cure the Diseases of Aging” Panel Discussion (August 23, 2014, 12:30pm)
Escalating societal healthcare needs have driven an unprecedented era of biomedical innovation. However, the development of candidate technologies without consideration of a robust regulatory strategy is likely to contribute to stymied patient access and commercial viability. Therefore, this session considered worldwide efforts to rapidly and proportionally develop international regulatory processes to accommodate increasingly heterogeneous and unfamiliar healthcare technologies and their swift translation from lab to bedside.
• David Brindley, Research Fellow, University of Oxford/Center for the Advancement of Sustainable Medical Innovation (Moderator)
• Bob Clay, Chief Regulatory Officer, Kinapse & Manging Director, Highbury Regulatory Science
• Andrew Martello, Managing Director, Spoonful of Sugar
• Evan Snyder, Director, Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, Director, Stem Cell Research Center and Core Facility, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute
Rejuvenation Biotechnology 2014 Keynote Presentation (August 23, 2014, 9:00am) “Creating a Culture of Innovation and Breakthroughs” Presenter: Peter Diamandis, Co-founder and Vice Chairman, Human Longevity, Inc, Founder and CEO, X PRIZE Foundation.
Dr. Peter H. Diamandis is an international pioneer in the fields of innovation, incentive competitions and commercial space. In the field of Innovation, Diamandis is Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation, best known for its $10 million Ansari X PRIZE for private spaceflight. Today the X PRIZE leads the world in designing and operating large-scale global competitions to solve market failures.
Diamandis is also the Co-Founder and Vice-Chairman of Human Longevity Inc. (HLI), a genomics and cell therapy-based diagnostic and therapeutic company focused on extending the healthy human lifespan. He is also the Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Singularity University, a graduate-level Silicon Valley institution that studies exponentially growing technologies, their ability to transform industries and solve humanity’s grand challenges. In the field of commercial space, Diamandis is Co-Founder/Co-Chairman of Planetary Resources, a company designing spacecraft to enable the detection and mining of asteroid for precious materials.
Diamandis is the New York Times Bestselling author of Abundance – The Future Is Better Than You Think. Abundance was #1 on Amazon and #2 on New York Times. He was also named one of “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” – by Fortune Magazine. He earned an undergraduate degree in Molecular Genetics and a graduate degree in Aerospace Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School.
Diamandis’ mission is to open the space frontier for humanity. His personal motto is: “The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself.”
Rejuvenation Biotechnology 2014 Musculoskeletal Disease Session (August 23, 2014, 12:30pm) “The Rejuvenation of Aged Skeletal Muscle by Systematic Factors” Presenter: Young Jang, Assistant Professor, Georgia Institute of Technology.
Young Jang received his Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences (Cell Biology) from University of Texas in 2008, and completed his postdoctoral training from Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies and the laboratory of Amy Wagers at Harvard University and Harvard Stem Cell Institute. In 2014, he was appointed as an Assistant Professor in the School of Applied Physiology and a faculty member in the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience at Georgia Institute of Technology.
The primary research focus of the Jang laboratory is to understand the molecular and biochemical mechanisms of age-related muscle loss and function. The Jang laboratory applies bioengineering approaches and stem cell-based therapies to study skeletal muscle dysfunction during aging and in age-associated muscle diseases. The laboratory develops and applies novel tools using a combination of animal and stem cell models.
Rejuvenation Biotechnology 2014 Cancer Session (August 22, 2014, 1:00pm) “Accelerating Knowledge Turns: The I-SPY Model and Drug Development”
Presenter: Laura Esserman, Professor, Departments of Surgery and Radiology, and Affiliate Faculty, Institute for Health Policy Studies and Director, Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center; Co-Leader, Breast Oncology Program, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California, San Francisco.
Dr. Esserman is a surgeon and breast cancer oncology specialist, and is the Director of the Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). In 1996, she started the Center of Excellence for Breast Cancer Care at UCSF to integrate clinical care and research, automate tools for the capture of patient and clinical data, and develop systems to tailor care to biology, patient preference, and performance.
Dr. Esserman is nationally and internationally known as a leader in the field of breast cancer and has published over 200 articles. She served as a member of a taskforce for President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) Working Group on Advancing Innovation in Drug Development and Evaluation. The group was tasked with making recommendations to the federal government about how to best support science-based innovation in the process of drug development and regulatory evaluation.
She is the Principle Investigator of the I-SPY TRIAL program, a multi-site neoadjuvant clinical trial (which includes phase 2 and 3 trials) that has evolved into a model for translational research and innovation in clinical trial design. Dr. Esserman has recently launched a University of California-wide breast cancer initiative called the Athena Breast Health Network, a program designed to follow 150,000 women from screening through treatment and outcomes, incorporating the latest in molecular testing and web-based tools into the course of care. Athena is in the final stages of launching a statewide demonstration project and phase 1/2 trial of personalized screening.