Frequently Asked Questions

What does LRI mean by life extension?

We’re looking for interventions that keep an organism alive and healthy longer, preventing or reversing the underlying damage processes that cause the diseases of aging. So far, there have been drugs that extend life by up to 30% in mammals and up to 60% in invertebrates -- we’re talking about substantial increases in lifespan, but not immortality. We’re also not talking about keeping an organism alive in a decrepit state: all known interventions that delay death from age-related diseases also prolong healthspan, keeping animals biologically “youthful” for longer.


Why does LRI believe that preventing aging/extending life is possible?

We know it’s possible in a variety of animals -- there are genetic mutations and drugs that extend life in lab animals. The question is whether any of these techniques would work on humans, and to do that, we’d first need better confirmation that these techniques really work on animals; this is LRI’s starting point.


Why has science only recently started working on treatments for aging?

Until fairly recently (the 1990s), it was thought that life extension was impossible. Now that evidence is emerging that aging can be prevented and life can be extended (in animals), investment in aging biotech is growing dramatically. However, there is still a huge need for rigorous, open science that won’t be met by industry alone, which is where LRI comes into the picture.


Why is LRI a nonprofit?

We’re optimizing for freedom of inquiry. Being a nonprofit means that we can investigate treatments that might not make a profit for a drug company, such as natural products or generic drugs, and test for the endpoints (like lifespan, all-cause mortality, or frailty) that are most relevant to whether a drug treats aging, whether or not that’s the quickest path to FDA approval for a disease indication. We don’t want short-term financial incentives to get in the way of doing science that has the potential to help billions of people.


What approaches to preventing aging is LRI taking?

We’re mechanism-agnostic, so the answer is “any approach that works”! For our replication studies, we’re prioritizing testing drugs that have previously shown large effects on animal lifespan. When we start testing larger drug libraries for life-extending effects, we’ll aim to test diverse sets of bioactive drugs. Choosing lifespan as our primary criterion and looking at anything that extends it allows us to be unbiased and systematic in searching for potential anti-aging therapies.


What would LRI do with its own lab?

Funding external replication experiments is just the beginning, because most of the possibility space of drugs that could extend life hasn’t yet been explored. No one has integrated large-scale invertebrate lifespan drug screens with modern machine learning tools to create a unified drug discovery platform for life extension drugs.


What value does machine learning add to aging research?

Machine learning allows us to cheaply search for new aging interventions. It allows automated, image-based testing of the lifespan and health of small organisms, and it allows for innovative statistical designs of experiments that let us test more drugs with fewer animal subjects.


Does LRI accept grant applications?

No. We reverse the usual grant-giving process: we seek out top researchers and offer them grants to run lifespan studies of the most promising drugs.


Is LRI a 501(c)3?

We have submitted our 501(c)3 application to the IRS and expect to get a positive response in the next several months. If you donate now, your donation will be retroactively tax-deductible after our 501(c)3 status is confirmed.


I can only make a small donation. Is that still useful?

Small donations help a lot. In addition to our main lifespan studies, we also do pilot studies and other smaller-scale projects (such as hourglass.bio, a new online magazine about the biology of aging.) Small donations can contribute to these projects, as well as our general operations, and can help make lifespan studies better on the margin (such as paying for more types of tests and assays).


Can I help in any way besides donating?

We’re always interested in research collaborations; if you’re researching aging and want to share ideas or see if there are potential opportunities to work together, don’t hesitate to contact us.