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All topics about cryopreservation costs, membership dues, etc.
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Steve.Bridge
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2011 10:10 pm
Relationship with Alcor: Former Alcor President 1993-1997
Current Co-Manager of Cryonics Property LLC
Advisor to Alcor Board of Directors
Advisor to Alcor Patient Care Trust

Back to Grants

Post by Steve.Bridge » Thu Sep 22, 2011 10:08 pm

OK, let’s go back to the original question – why not apply for grants? I’ll try to explain what has happened in the past – within MY knowledge. I must point out here that I was Alcor’s President from 1993-97 and was on the Board of Directors for another 4 years. But since then I have been just an Advisor; so some things have certainly gotten past me.

When I became President, one of my goals was to apply for grants. I even took a grant-writing workshop. In the process of learning about grants, I learned that the process is not simple, especially for a field as off the norm as cryonics. Most foundations and government organizations have fairly narrow fields they will write grants for and cryonics rarely fits. Many smaller foundations are limited geographically, too, only making grants that benefit their communities. Government agencies that make science and medical grants were almost certainly out, at least in those days. NIH grants, we discovered, were specifically forbidden to go to any research aimed at increasing the “normal” human life span – death and aging were considered normal results of life that should not be “cured.”

Problem two was that grants are almost always given to specific research proposals. Saying we needed money “to develop suspended animation” was going to be too vague. And grants almost always went to organizations like universities or companies which had already proven they could DO research. Few foundations will take a flyer on handing money over to inexperienced, uncredentialed researchers with no detailed, serious research plan. And there is the problem of results – to get grant number 2 and 3 and 4, you need to accomplish something – something – with the money for the first one.

And in 1993-1997 that was especially difficult. My first goal in becoming Alcor’s President in 1993 was to halt the split in Alcor which was being threatened. I failed at that goal and a chunk of Alcor members left to form a new organization called CryoCare. The members who left included most of the people with biological/medical research background. I didn’t think much about grants the next few years. I was trying to hold Alcor together and keep our ability to perform cryopreservations.

Over the years since then, Alcor has had some researchers but none lasted long enough (for many unrelated reasons) to build up enough credibility to apply for a grant. We thought maybe one or two of those people would put us over the top in that regard; but it didn’t happen. The one exception to this might be Hugh Hixon, but Hugh works in a pretty free-form way, with several projects going on at once and few of them focused in the tight way that might result in a grant.

In fact, though, Alcor has had some money that could be thought of grant money from some individual Alcor members. Some of this has been used to upgrade Alcor’s capabilities in many ways. And some Alcor members work for for-profit companies who are doing some of the research that will be required for successful preservation and revival. It is not a complete desert.

Could individual volunteers experienced in grant writing help Alcor get foundation grants? Possibly; but there is the cart-before-the-horse problem. It is hard to get grants without a researcher and a plan; but it is hard to hold onto researchers long enough to generate plans and credibility without grants to pay for them.

Now those are the reasons – or perhaps excuses – why it hasn’t happened in the past. Some of those same reasons exist today. The paragraph above is still true. And there is the question --- should Alcor even BE a research organization, or should Alcor concentrate on being more focused on fund-raising so it can become an organization which MAKES grants for research to others?

Steve Bridge
Steve Bridge

AlanBrooks
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AlanBrooks
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Mike Anzis
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Re: Back to Grants

Post by Mike Anzis » Sat Oct 08, 2011 10:08 pm

While not exactly a grant (more like a post-facto grant), I recently became aware of the possibility of an "X Prize" type competition for freezing (or suspending) and then reanimating a mamal. The sponsor would be Peter Thiel, the fouder of PayPal and well known billionaire, and this comes from a recent conversation I personally had with Peter. Peter claims that there have been contacts between his associates and various cryonicists, including members of Alcor in this regard.

Does anyone know about this, and whether it is being pursued?

Mike Anzis

bwowk
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Re: Back to Grants

Post by bwowk » Wed Nov 30, 2011 12:48 am

I've been involved in discussions of this prize with the X-Prize Foundation, although not directly with potential financiers. The problem is that reversible solid state preservation of whole mammals with long-term survival is not feasible on the time scale that the X-Prize Foundation prefers to stage prizes (less than 10 years).

Bear in mind that even though cryobiology is a small field, it is an established scientific field with a substantial knowledge base. Using this knowledge, it's still a struggle to successfully cryopreserve small tissue pieces. There have only been isolated successes with some organs of small animals. There is a list of tissues and organs that have been reversibly cryopreserved by vitrification in my recent review article.

http://www.21cm.com/pdfs/2010-Thermodynamics.pdf

Image the difficulties of recovering, say, a whole mouse when even mouse brains, mouse hearts, mouse lungs, mouse kidneys, or mouse livers cannot yet be cryopreserved even individually. Now imagine that even if vital organs could be reversibly cryopreserved in-vivo, how long would a recovered animal survive with extensive damage to many other tissues and organs (e.g. muscles, digestive organs, eyes) that still can't be reversibly cryopreserved?

Reversible cryopreservation of whole mammals is still a very difficult problem. Anyone who claims otherwise without first demonstrating cryopreservation breakthroughs with tissues and organs is bound to misuse both money and animals. That's why I and my colleagues persuaded the X-Prize Foundation to consider an organ cryopreservation X-Prize before a whole animal X-Prize. Even with the less ambitious goal of individual organs, there are still problems to overcome such as a shortage of labs studying organ cryopreservation who could be competitors. Whether anyone will fund an organ prize also remains to be seen. Missions to asteroids can be uninspiring for those with hearts set on the stars.

The gulf between what cryonicists want, and what they can have in the near term, is still very great. That's why I think it's better to think of cryonics as neurological information preservation for possible future repair/restoration rather than suspended animation. I think the most important goal of cryonics research should be improving the quality with which that neurological information is preserved. Such research would culminate in demonstrably reversible brain preservation as the most important first step toward suspended animation of animals and eventually people, some distant day.

paulwakfer

Re: Back to Grants

Post by paulwakfer » Thu Dec 22, 2011 10:36 pm

bwowk wrote:The gulf between what cryonicists want, and what they can have in the near term, is still very great. That's why I think it's better to think of cryonics as neurological information preservation for possible future repair/restoration rather than suspended animation. I think the most important goal of cryonics research should be improving the quality with which that neurological information is preserved. Such research would culminate in demonstrably reversible brain preservation as the most important first step toward suspended animation of animals and eventually people, some distant day.
I agree with this realistic description (even if rather pessimistic to many cryonicists and certainly not what they want to hear). Such a realistic approach should implies two major actions for all cryonicists:

1) First, and most important of all, learn and follow a health- and life-span extending lifestyle, continually keeping abreast of the changes and recommendations in this area as they occur. As Brian and others have stated in the past, the longer you can stay alive the better cryopreservation you will get and the better chance you will have to return to fully functioning life in some form. In fact, as opposed to cryopreservation research, life extending research is proceeding at a much faster well-funded pace and there is a very realistic chance that many alive today will live in excellent functioning form to much older ages than anyone has attained to date.

2) If you are signed up for whole body cryopreservation change it to neuro. This will solve the under funding problem, you will be much more portable and therefore much safer while in cryopreservation, your brain will likely get a better cryoprservation and you will likely be able to return to a fully functional form earlier than if you continue to insist that you do not want your brain to come back unless your whole original body is fully repaired at the same time.

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