In the modern world, there is a long list of health problems and diseases faced by people all over the world. These range from minor conditions to life-threatening diseases that have a dramatic impact on entire communities. But what many organizations and individuals fail to realize is that there is one medical condition that effects every human being on the planet, no matter their level of health, income, life habits, or geographical region. There is one condition that has long been considered inescapable—aging.
For generations, human beings have seen aging as something unavoidable, a natural process of life that happens to everyone no matter how healthy they might be in their day-to-day life. We all get old, our bones break down, our skin becomes rigid and wrinkled, and we lose the ability to do the things we used to do when we were younger.
Numerous diseases also become more common as people grow older. These diseases can lead to everything from decreased quality of life to life-threatening conditions that can dramatically impact individuals and families. Among others, these diseases might include arthritis, osteoporosis, cancer and high blood pressure. While there have been some advancements taken in combating these diseases, unfortunately the health care system primarily focuses on treating these conditions rather than preventing them. Much of the medical expertise and research surrounding these life-changing and often debilitating conditions is centered around helping patients cope with their symptoms instead of addressing their root causes, which ultimately means that the outlook is often bleak for anyone who is diagnosed with one of these conditions.
But Arizona philanthropist and entrepreneur Jason Hope has embraced a different approach. He seeks to help people live longer by slowing down or reversing the aging process, and he’s donating his own funds to help groundbreaking organizations in this mission to transform the way healthcare organizations can combat and treat the effects of aging on people all over the world.
Hope has supported a charitable organization known as the SENS Foundation for a number of years. He first began funding its vital work when he donated $500,000 in December 2010. This organization strives to help the public gain access to technology that would counteract aging and prevent the above-mentioned illnesses. Hope announced his initial contribution at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts during an event called Breakthrough Philanthropy.
The SENS Foundation is one of several organizations dedicated to the use of biotechnology to find new approaches to treating and preventing disease and improving human life. The biotech segment of scientific discovery involves the use and study of living organisms or organic systems to develop new products, most of which are centered around improving life. Other areas of biotech development include the improvement of agricultural methods, healthier food production, and enhanced understanding of how medicine can combat disease and improve quality of life.
Founded in March 2009, the SENS Research Foundation not only invests heavily in research programs designed to combat and learn more about aging, but also in changing the public perception of aging in order to turn opinions toward the potential for revolutionary change.
The SENS Foundation has outlined their overall mission as finding a way to “transform the way the world researches and treats age-related disease.” The organization has even pioneered what they call the SENS approach, which involves repairing living cells and other materials within patients’ bodies in order to prevent the effects of aging altogether. This is an approach that stands apart from the general healthcare research approach to focusing on individual ailments and diseases, focusing rather on addressing the root causes of these diseases at the cellular level.
The SENS Foundation also actively funds promising research organizations beyond their own research, including selective funding at organizations and institutions including Yale, Harvard, Cambridge, and the University of Arizona.
In addition to their research-based approach, the SENS Foundation also focuses on outreach to politicians, influencers, donors and volunteers through the use of active events and conferences to raise awareness about the importance and efficacy of their work.
Aubrey de Grey serves as the leader and chief science officer of this 501c3 nonprofit. He co-founded it approximately eight years ago, but has been a pioneer and vanguard in anti-aging research and science for long before that. Raised in London, England, De Grey went on to study at the University of Cambridge, where he graduated with a BA in computer science. From there, he joined the Sinclair Research firm where he worked with artificial intelligence. But his interests soon centered on humankind and our battle against aging, and in 2000 he earned a PhD in biology from Cambridge. His degree was centered around his book The Mitochondrial Free Radical Theory of Aging, which expounded on his belief that finding ways to prevent or lessen damage to mitochondrial DNA within the body might help to avoid the effects of aging and extend the human lifespan. While he acknowledged the mitochondrial damage is a significant cause of aging but not he only cause, he began to focus his life’s efforts on finding ways to battle that damage. This led to his founding of the SENS Research Foundation.
The SENS Foundation operates laboratories and performs medical research, in addition to performing ongoing outreach to help the public and policy makers better understand what causes aging. It maintains an office in Mountain View, Calif. De Grey possesses a strong desire to reverse aging; he has personally contributed more than $10 million to his organization.
After donating a half-million dollars himself, Hope spoke about the foundation and highly praised its work. He endorsed its strategy to fight diseases like diabetes and Alzheimer’s. The philanthropist predicted that SENS would help bring about tremendous changes in the medical industry, ultimately leading to complete redefining of the healthcare, pharmaceutical and biotech industries altogether. He disclosed a desire to expedite the organization’s work in a way that will benefit the entire human race. He expressed his appreciation for the fact that the SENS Foundation is not just focused on treating individual diseases and conditions, but on identifying and repairing the damage that aging can do to the human body before that damage can result in diseases and issues that ultimately lead to death.
The SENS Foundation’s chief executive officer commented on Hope’s initial donation. Mike Kope highlighted the contribution’s importance; it enabled the nonprofit to take faster action against illnesses that afflict the elderly. He expressed a wish to use biotechnology in new ways that will rejuvenate people all over the world. Generous donors’ funds could help make this possible.
Aubrey de Grey talked about a specific purpose for the $500,000 contribution. He said that the money would help SENS find ways to prevent artery-cell proteins from bonding. De Grey wants to accomplish this because it could stop arteries from hardening and triggering high blood pressure. These issues are some of the leading causes of age-related conditions and diseases, and often result in death among aged patients. By identifying the root causes of artery-cell protein bonding at the cellular level, Aubrey De Grey and donors like Jason Hope believe they can help to prevent this bonding from ever occurring. This project also has the potential to prevent skin deterioration, diabetes and eye problems, other common conditions that occur when we age.
In fact, researchers and scientists like De Grey believe that the idea of human beings living for as long as 1,000 years is not simply the realm of science-fiction. While such enormous lifespans may not be within reach anytime in the immediate future, De Grey and his colleagues and supporters believe that by consistently learning about and confronting the cellular causes of aging, we can one day find a way to minimize and even almost eliminate the effects of aging altogether. De Grey also stresses that this lengthening of life would not mean that the period of being “aged” would be longer, but that every human begin would experience a dramatically lengthened “healthy” period of their life, where they can enjoy the physical peak of their bodies for a much longer stretch of time than we as a human race have ever thought possible.
Hope’s donations aid the development of medications known as AGE-breakers. This type of drug attempts to eliminate advanced glycation end-products. These substances build up in a person’s flesh as he or she ages. They cause veins and skin to become less flexible. This increased rigidity can lead to everything from higher blood pressure to other blood conditions and age-related issues. Although medical professionals succeeded in developing AGE-breaking medicines for small animals, they have yet to adapt this concept in a way that benefits people. That is one of the primary areas of focus of the SENS Foundation—to move forward research that has shown promise but has not yet been taken to the next level to determine how it can truly change the way we live and age.
Fortunately, researchers recently identified the most prevalent kind of glycation end-product in the human body. They recognize that glucosepane promotes aging and multiple health problems. The SENS Foundation continues working to identify effective strategies to banish this substance from the skin and veins. Although the medical industry has largely ignored this potential solution, donors like Jason Hope have empowered SENS to perform further research. With the funds from donations like Hopes, they can enlist the expertise, equipment and research hours necessary to determine exactly how the banishment of glycation end-products can change the way we age and perhaps even dramatically extend the average lifespan of a human being.
One of the blocks that the SENS Foundation hopes to overcome through their research and outreach is what De Grey describes as the “pro-aging trance.” This phenomenon is based in the idea that aging is something to be respected and desirable. He believes that this idea comes from an intrinsic fear of aging; that by seeing it as something unavoidable and even beautiful, we will be less afraid of experiencing ourselves as we move closer to death. But De Grey believes that this approach to aging is counterproductive, as it keeps us as a human race from actively finding ways to fight aging. De Grey and the SENS Foundation believe that aging should be treated like any condition that lessens the length and quality of life—we should do everything we can to combat it, learn about it, and find ways to prevent it.
In the service of this important mission, Hope’s $500,000 contribution also permitted the foundation to establish an important laboratory program in the United Kingdom. This glucosepane-related project began at a Cambridge University lab during 2011. Scientists worked to identify compounds that would break up harmful glycation end-products. The school’s biotechnology and chemical engineering department oversaw the program, and William Bains served as its director. Partnerships like these between the SENS Foundation and other organizations and institutions has been a hallmark of their approach, highlighting the organization’s core belief that only by working together will the scientific community and the world at large find a way to battle aging in a meaningful way.
Fellow investor Peter Thiel co-founded PayPal in the past, and currently serves as the chairman of the Thiel Foundation. He strongly praised Hope’s first contribution and repeatedly donated his personal earnings to SENS. Both men recently gave more than $1 million to help the foundation thrive in its goals. Hope has also worked to raise awareness of anti-aging research and help attract additional donors to the organization, as he believes that the mission of the foundation is vital to the advancement of the human race
The Arizona philanthropist speaks about his reasons for supporting this nonprofit in a section of his website devoted to philanthropy. He said that conventional health care providers only seek to manage heart, lung and Alzheimer’s diseases after these conditions have triggered harmful symptoms. Hope wants to stop the illnesses from developing in the first place. He believes that these medical conditions bear a considerable amount of responsibility for premature aging. And he believes that foundations like SENS and their distinctive approach to tackling aging are the key to uncovering new limits to what the human body is capable of achieving. He believes that traditional medicine cannot stop diseases from occurring, but that prevention is the only key to making real change.
Hope also encourages everyone, no matter their level of income or availability, to find ways to support philanthropic causes they believe in. According to Hope, it begins with identifying one’s personal passions, finding ways to make a difference either on the local, national, or global level, and then committing to give either time or money (or both) to support causes that are important. He suggests seeking recommendations from friends and trusted members of the community to find organizations and causes that are truly worth supporting.
Like Aubrey de Gray, Hope thinks that scientists genuinely have the potential to reverse aging. New medications could accomplish this by targeting specific cells, according to the businessman and philanthropist. He notes that researchers need to use stem cells to maximize their progress in developing such medicines. Hope has also made donations to help people with specific age-related diseases. For instance, he supports the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
This talented investor and entrepreneur began his life in Tempe, Arizona. After high school, he attended financial classes at a state university. Hope successfully earned a master’s degree in business administration. He founded multiple technology-related startups after graduation and became well-known throughout the industry. His Phoenix-area companies prospered; Hope accumulated enough wealth to start making major philanthropic donations.
He currently resides in Scottsdale and provides consulting services to businesses. His wise advice helps clients succeed in a wide range of industries. The experienced consultant takes an interest in education, politics and the internet of things. Hope reads books about the latest technologies and their potential impact on society. He also enjoys running and carefully tracks his progress.
Hope’s philanthropy extends beyond anti-aging research. He also gives to an assortment of medical and educational nonprofits that benefit people in Arizona and around the globe. They include the Andre Agassi Foundation, which focuses on transforming public education for the better by preparing students for college and beyond. Hope also supports Family Health International, an organization dedicated to improving lives of people all over the world through locally-driven solutions and programs. Other foundations that Hope supports include the Arizona Science Center, the Boys and Girls Club, Teach For America and the Worldwide Orphans Foundation. Many of these organizations maintain offices in Phoenix or a nearby city, as Hope prefers to be able to work locally with organizations he supports for a hands-on approach to philanthropy and charitable work.
Students can directly request grants for their goals and projects by completing a short form on Hope’s website. He provides funding to each person who submits an appealing and innovative idea. These donations range from $500 to $5,000. The concepts must involve modern technology, and beneficiaries need to be attending university or high school classes. His website also encourages other people to become philanthropists and provides a few tips to help them get started.