PayPal Founder Pledges $3.5 Million for Life Extension Research

Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal, announced in September that he would donate $500,000 per year over the next three years to the Methuselah Foundation. The Methuselah Foundation is attempting to encourage research into anti-aging technologies by awarding prizes linked to specific goals, typically extending the lifespan of laboratory animals.

In addition, Thiel has promised matching funds of 50 cents for every dollar donated to the Methuselah Foundation from now through 2009.

The San Francisco Chronicle article on the donations includes a lot of background on the Methuselah Foundation’s Aubrey de Grey, who has become more controversial among researchers doing research on aging as his claims have become a bit more extravagant.

For example, here’s the SF Chronicle on de Grey critic S. Jay Olshansky, who 60 Minutes also used as its obligatory critic in their profile of de Grey,

S. Jay Olshansky, a demographer at the University of Illinois who confronted de Grey on CBS’s “60 Minutes” earlier this year, added: “Where I have vehemently disagreed with Aubrey is where he tries to convince people, especially reporters, that we are on the verge of immortality — that we have people alive today who will live for 1,000 or for 5,000 years.”

At present scientists don’t even know what causes aging, but “Aubrey seems to think that he does — that there are seven (causes for aging), that we have to reengineer the body to eliminate them, and that we’ll live forever.

“In the world of science,” Olshansky said, “you don’t make declarative statements (like that) without evidence to support them.”

Fine, 1,000 years is unrealistic — I’d be willing to settle for 300.


Entrepreneur backs research on anti-aging. Keay Davidson, San Francisco Chronicle, September 18, 2006.

PayPal Founder Pledges $3.5 Million to Antiaging Research. Press release, Methuselah Foundation, September 18, 2006.