Insilico Medicine CEO and Founder is on quest for aging without losing – and continual improvement.
Alex Zhavoronkov has used the platform of this year’s Aging Research and Drug Discovery meeting to announce his Longevity Pledge.
About 18 years ago, Zhavoronkov decided to leave a successful career in IT to pursue his lifelong dream — to develop a set of technologies that would allow humans to age without losing and continually improve.
As Zhavoronkov puts it: “There is no cause more urgent, more altruistic, more impactful, more important, and more ambitious than enabling humans to improve continuously. Aging is restricting our freedom in more ways than any regime, religion, or even slavery. Aging is the major barrier to individual freedom, hope, and prosperity. It inhibits economic growth as well as our collective ability to develop sustainably and responsibly.”
Longevity.Technology: Zhavoronkov has spent 18 years as a driving force in the longevity field; although there was significant progress made in many areas of science and technology, he realised that progress is much slower than he originally anticipated. Of course, while there are many emerging business models and substantial progress in enabling technologies, including those developed by the companies he runs or advises, the field is still far from curing or preventing Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, let alone moving on to substantially slowing down or reversing aging. Zhavoronkov hopes to change that.
Zhavoronkov says that what frustrates him is that most people do not pay enough attention to the inevitable decline, frailty, loss of function, diseases and death that are associated with aging and instead choose to be distracted by and spend their time on attention-grabbing causes that only provide a temporary reward.
“Many very talented human beings choose to focus on inventing, making, and selling stuff and content that people can easily live without instead of contributing to fighting the one silent enemy that is certain to kill everyone eventually,” he says. “This may be because the problem feels so grand and unachievable that it is easier to rely on others to solve it sometime in the future. But the problem is here, right now, and every individual contributor can make a difference. Like climate change or poverty, aging research requires everyone on the planet to become involved. But unlike climate change, aging is causing millions of casualties and suffering worldwide today and right now.”
But it’s not all negative; after nearly two decades of hard work, Zhavoronkov’s commercial ventures have started yielding financial returns.
“It would be logical to donate part of my wealth to charitable foundations focusing on aging research,” he says.” However, my ventures are already focused on longevity or enabling technologies, and I do have a pretty good view of the recent trends.”
Zhavoronkov firmly believes that a company like Insilico Medicine will make much more impact in longevity biotechnology than any charity, which is why he continues to invest in the company personally.
However, over the past two decades, Zhavoronkov has supported many projects in longevity, saw many failures, analysed a massive number of grants and learned how to evaluate the impact of the various longevity initiatives. In addition to capital, he feels he can now bring years of experience and multiple partner organisations to the most impactful projects.
Therefore, he states he would like to pledge everything he has now, and what he will get in the future, to only one cause — extending healthy productive longevity for all human beings.
As he puts it: “Instead of donating just a portion of my wealth and energy to this cause, I would like to do more.
“I pledge to spend 100% of my time and personal resources to accelerate research and clinical deployment of longevity technologies.”
Currently unmarried and childless, Zhavoronkov says as the situation stands, he does not plan to leave an inheritance, but rather to invest everything he has into projects and companies that extend healthy, productive life for everyone on the planet.
Zhavoronkov’s key interests in longevity biotechnology
- Drug discovery & development platform – an AI-accelerated and maximally autonomous drug discovery and development platform that will discover and develop new drugs for almost any disease. He am especially interested in developing dual-purpose blockbuster therapeutics targeting aging and major disease at the same time.
- AI-powered aging clocks – systems that allows the tracking of human aging in time at many levels.
- Personalised medicine and drug discovery – fully autonomous robotic analytics and discovery systems for personalised medicine and personalised drug discovery.
- AI and robotics-driven hospitals – AI and robotics-driven research hospitals where we can bring longevity technologies as close to humans as possible.
- Novel approaches in cryobiology and biostasis – recent advances like rapid re-heating and novel anti-freeze agents could make it possible to rapidly freeze and revive organs, small mammals, and even human bodies.
Initiatives Zhavoronkov plans to support with capital and time
- Longevity biotechnology education – increasing accessible education resources through www.longevity.degree and other educational programs within academic institutions, research communities, and medical societies.
- Supporting young scientists – Inspire Longevity program for high school students and similar projects, including undergraduate programs specialising in longevity biotech.
- Supporting conferences – ARDD, New Applications of Aging Research and similar.
- Conference travel grants – Longevity Fellow Awards.
- Supporting media resources and think tanks – including Longevity.Technology! We are delighted to count Dr Zhavoronkov among our advisors!
- Promoting international friendship, collaboration and cultural understanding – there are amazing new initiatives in longevity biotechnology in countries that are undergoing dramatic cultural transformation and investing heavily in the development of technology capabilities. Zhavoronkov would like to contribute to the promotion of the various biomedical initiatives in the region and cover these exciting new trends.
- Dedicating time to government and funding organisations focusing on longevity – contributing to projects where his talents will be very helpful and welcome and the time I invest may result in substantial benefits to the community.
- Inspiring, supporting and coaching the capable IT professionals transitioning into longevity biotech – allocating time and resources to help with the education and formulation of the optimal career paths for the IT professionals interested in transitioning into biotechnology.
- Academic research and perspectives – many of Zhavoronkov’s papers serve as the building blocks for tools that are needed to advance longevity biotechnology in the classical biotechnology framework.
- Inspiration, outreach and non-academic writing – covering some of the most interesting stories in the field by contributing to Forbes.com and other portals. Zhavoronkov is also frustrated that many of the female scientists and physicians do not have as many opportunities to highlight their work as men do. This is why he started the Women in Longevity series of articles in which he interviews longevity physicians and scientists to highlight their work and inspire more people to get into the field.