Aubrey David Nicholas Jasper de Grey (born 20 April 1963 in London, England) is a biomedical gerontologist who lives in the city of Cambridge, UK.
He is the author of the Mitochondrial Free Radical Theory of Aging. He is now working to develop a tissue-repair strategy, that would, in effect, rejuvenate the human body and allow indefinite lifespan -- a medical goal he refers to as engineered negligible senescence. To this end, he has identified what he concludes are the seven areas of the aging process that need to be addressed medically before this can be done.
He has been interviewed in recent years in many news sources, including CBS 60 Minutes, BBC, the New York Times, Fortune Magazine, Free Talk Live and Popular Science. His main activities at present are as chairman and chief science officer of The Methuselah Foundation and editor-in-chief of the academic journal Rejuvenation Research.
Aubrey de Grey was educated at Sussex House School, Harrow School and Trinity Hall, Cambridge. Prior to his work in cellular and molecular biology, he studied computer science. In 1985, he received a B.A. in Computer Science from the University of Cambridge and joined Sinclair Research Ltd as an AI/software engineer; in 1986, he co-founded Man-Made Minions Ltd to pursue the development of an automated formal program verifier. Until 2006, he was in charge of software development at the University of Cambridge Genetics Department for the FlyBase genetic database.
During this time Cambridge awarded de Grey a Ph.D. by a mechanism available only to previous Cambridge undergraduates (of whatever discipline) — the "special regulations," which require evidence of "...a significant contribution to scholarship", and are evaluated by the usual methods (examiners appointed; oral defence of the submitted work) but do not require an applicant to have been registered as a Ph.D. student while performing such work. The degree was granted in 2000 on the basis of de Grey's book concerning the biology of one aspect of aging, The Mitochondrial Free Radical Theory of Aging (ISBN 1-58706-155-4), which he wrote in 1999. The book controversially claimed that obviating damage to mitochondrial DNA might by itself extend lifespan significantly, though it stated that it was more likely that cumulative damage to mitochondria is a significant cause of senescence, but not the single dominant cause. A February 8, 2007 search for "de Grey AD [au]" on PubMed  revealed 61 publications in 25 peer-reviewed journals, of which 19 are in Rejuvenation Research, the journal edited by de Grey.
Regarding his background as a computer scientist (and subsequently a bioinformatician in genetics), he states:
"There are really very important differences between the type of creativity involved in being a scientist and being a technical engineer. It means that I’m able to think in very different ways and come up with approaches to things that are different from the way a basic scientist might think."
He argues that the fundamental knowledge necessary to develop effective anti-aging medicine mostly exists today, and that the science is actually ahead of the funding. He works to identify and promote specific technological approaches to the reversal of various aspects of aging, or as de Grey puts it, "the set of accumulated side effects from metabolism that eventually kills us", and for the more proactive and urgent approaches to extending the healthy human lifespan. Regarding this issue, de Grey is a supporter of life extension.
As of 2005, de Grey's work centered upon a detailed plan called Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) which is aimed at preventing age-related physical and cognitive decline. He is also the co-founder (with David Gobel) and chief scientist of the Methuselah Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Springfield, Virginia, United States. A major activity of the Methuselah Foundation is the Methuselah Mouse Prize, a prize designed to accelerate research into effective life extension interventions by awarding monetary prizes to researchers who extend the lifespan of mice to unprecedented lengths. Regarding this, de Grey stated in March 2005 "if we are to bring about real regenerative therapies that will benefit not just future generations, but those of us who are alive today, we must encourage scientists to work on the problem of aging". The prize reached US$4.2 million in February 2007. de Grey believes that once dramatic life extension of already middle-aged mice has been achieved, a large amount of funding will be diverted to this kind of research, which would accelerate progress in doing the same for humans.
On 16 September 2006, Peter A. Thiel, co-founder and former CEO of the online payments system PayPal, announced that he is pledging $3.5 million to the Methuselah Foundation "to support scientific research into the alleviation and eventual reversal of the debilities caused by aging".
In 2007, de Grey wrote the book "Ending Aging" with the assistance of Michael Rae. It summarizes the science, politics and social challenges of the entire SENS agenda.
These are changes to the nuclear DNA (nDNA), the molecule that contains our genetic information, or to proteins which bind to the nDNA. Certain mutations can lead to cancer, and, according to de Grey, non-cancerous mutations and epimutations do not contribute to aging within a normal lifespan, so cancer is the only endpoint of these types of damage that must be addressed.
Mitochondria are components in our cells that are important for energy production. They contain their own genetic material, and mutations to their DNA can affect a cell’s ability to function properly. Indirectly, these mutations may accelerate many aspects of aging.
Our cells are constantly breaking down proteins and other molecules that are no longer useful or which can be harmful. Those molecules which can’t be digested simply accumulate as junk inside our cells. Atherosclerosis, macular degeneration and all kinds of neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer's disease) are associated with this problem.
Harmful junk protein can also accumulate outside of our cells. The amyloid plaque seen in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients is one example.
Some of the cells in our bodies cannot be replaced, or can only be replaced very slowly - more slowly than they die. This decrease in cell number causes the heart to become weaker with age, and it also causes Parkinson's disease and impairs the immune system.
This is a phenomenon where the cells are no longer able to divide, but also do not die and let others divide. They may also do other things that they’re not supposed to, like secreting proteins that could be harmful. Immune senescence and type 2 diabetes are caused by this.
Cells are held together by special linking proteins. When too many cross-links form between cells in a tissue, the tissue can lose its elasticity and cause problems including arterioscerosis and presbyopia.
Rejuvenation Research (online reference) Editor: Aubrey de Grey. Publisher: Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. ISSN 1549-1684 - Published quarterly
Recorded public appearances
Presentation at Popular Technology conference Poptech (45:06)
Defeating aging - July 2005 Oxford England - TED (conference) at YouTube (22:28) Aging and death are solvable problems, and we can live for centuries, if we approach the aging process as an engineering problem.
Defeating aging - held July 2005 in Oxford, England - TED (conference) (29:59) longer version with interview.
Tomorrows People Forum 2006: Longer? (2:00:58) The "Longer?" lecture (Presentation 3) for the Tomorrows People Conference Forum 2006 that took place on the 14-17 of March 2006 at the Saïd Business School at Oxford.
TED conference 2006 - Fixing Humanity's worst problem (23:05) Presentation at the Technology Entertainment Design TED Conference 2006.
The unfortunate influence of the weather on the rate of ageing (10:35) Excerpt of talk at CR-IV (2006 Calorie Restriction Society Conference), held April 6-9 in Tucson, Arizona, United States.
Immortality Institute conference presentation (29:49) Presentation at the Immortality Institute's conference in Atlanta, Georgia, United States.
http://authorslounge.meettheauthor.com/35/aubrey_de_grey/ An interview for meettheauthor.com filmed in November 2007
GoogleTechTalks: Aging of the Other Genome (Dec. 2006, 62 minutes) On mutations of mitochondrial DNA and de Grey's MitoSENS
News interview with Janet Street-Porter on Bloomberg Encounters (12:29) A brief overview on how ageing could be curable and extreme life extension could be available in as little as 25 years and the scientific debate surrounding such a proposition.
Interview on GMTV's Good Morning at YouTube (7:23) Interview on Britain's GMTV program "Good Morning" with Fern Britton and Phillip Schofield surrounding extreme life extension and its feasibility in the next 25 years.
Interview for CBC Canada Now at YouTube (5:53) Interview for CBC Canada Now.
Link to Good Morning America Interview Announcements Will be Interviewed on ABC's Good Morning America on September 17th, 2007
Radio interview with Ian Bernard and Mark Edge on Free Talk Live (32:49) A half-hour interview (without commercials) given by Ian Bernard and Mark Edge of Free Talk Live on a discussion of how death can be defeated in our lifetime.
Exploring Life Extension (1:45:32) A film by the Immortality Institute that explores various aspects of extreme life extension including cryogenics, caloric restriction, transhumanism, and other scientific pursuits of extreme life extension.
Aubrey de Grey was the subject of the documentary film Do You Want to Live Forever? (1:16:36), directed by Christopher Sykes and first broadcast on February 3, 2007 by Channel 4 in the UK.