Click on the photo of Dr. Richard Carmona, M.D., U.S. Surgeon General, for an exclusive interview on "Defining the US Preventive Healthcare Agenda" in the current issue (No. 3) of our Integrative Medicine for Anti-Aging e-Journal.
June 1, 2005; The US Surgeon General in cooperation with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of NIH has launched a new campaign to point out the risks of Childhood Obesity and what we can do about it called, We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children's Activity and Nutrition). Click for details.
July 10, 2007; Former US Surgeon General, Dr. Richard H. Carmona, M.D., said "I was blocked [by this Administration] at every turn." "When the issue of Federal funding for stem-cell research arose," Carmona said, "I felt that I could play an educational role by discussing the latest scientific research, but instead I was told to 'stand down', because the White House had already made its decision [about stem cells]." Carmona said, "Administration appointees, who reviewed his speech texts, deleted any references to stem cells."
Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni, MD, Director of NIH, recently dissented from the Administration's position by saying "its restrictions on Federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research that were holding back progress should be lifted." Some Republican Committee members, however, gratuitously suggested that Carmona, who worked his way up from humble origins and was decorated for combat service in Vietnam, simply wasn't cut out for the Washington insider's game of bureaucratic turf battles." 
[Editorial Suggestion: If this statement is true, Americans need to get even. Why don't the good Senators simply deny confirmation to Dr. James W. Holsinger, Jr.'s appointment (a prominent lay member of the Methodist Church who is on record as being strongly opposed to liberalized policies toward gays) on the grounds that he is too much of a Washington (evangelical) insider and leave the position of US Surgeon General vacant for the balance of President Bush's term, on the grounds that genuine medical advice on behalf of the American people would only be ignored by this Administration anyway if it conflicted with its own agenda? (More information to corroborate the charges was released on Congressman Waxman's website today (July 31, 2007) [2, 3] Steve Coles]
July 10, 2007; Washington, D.C. (AP and CNN) -- President Bush's most recent Surgeon General accused the Administration Tuesday of muzzling him for political reasons on hot-button health issues such as emergency contraception and abstinence-only education. Dr. Richard Carmona told lawmakers that "the Bush Administration interfered with his work."
Dr. Richard Carmona, the nation's 17th Surgeon General, told lawmakers that all surgeons general have had to deal with politics but none more so than he. For example, he said he wasn't allowed to make a speech at the Special Olympics because it was viewed as benefiting a political opponent. However, he said he was asked to speak at events designed to benefit Republican lawmakers. "The reality is that the nation's doctor has been marginalized and relegated to a position with no independent budget, and with supervisors who are political appointees with partisan agendas," said Carmona, who served from [2002 - 2006].
Responding, the White House said Carmona was given the authority and had the obligation to be the leading voice for the health of all Americans. "It's disappointing to us if he failed to use his position to the fullest extent in advocating for policies he thought were in the best interests of the nation," said Deputy Press Secretary Tony Fratto. "We believe Dr. Carmona received the support necessary to carry out his mission."
Confirmation hearings are scheduled to be held Thursday for Dr. James Holsinger Jr., the Kentucky cardiologist Bush nominated as the nation's 18th Surgeon General. The nomination has been criticized by gay rights groups.
Carmona testified Tuesday at a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Also appearing were Drs. C. Everett Koop, who served as surgeon general from [1982 - 1989], and David Satcher, who served from [1998 - 2001].
"Political interference with the work of the Surgeon General appears to have reached a new level in this Administration," said Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA).
Koop is probably the most recognized former Surgeon General. He talked about AIDS as a public health issue rather than a moral issue, which won him many admirers and some critics. He said President Reagan was pressed to fire him every day, but Reagan would not interfere. Koop said that "after he left office he had more access to the Secretary of Health and Human Services than his successor, Satcher, and that embarrassed him." "Dr. Carmona was treated with even less respect than Dr. Satcher," Koop said.
A report condemning secondhand smoke was a hallmark of Carmona's tenure. "Another report, on global-health challenges, was never released after the Administration demanded changes that he refused to make," Carmona said. "I was told this would be a political document or you're not going to release it," Carmona said. "I said it can't be a political document because the Surgeon General never releases political documents. I release scientific documents that will help our elected officials and the citizens understand the complex world we live in and what their responsibilities are."
He refused to identify the officials who sought the changes. Carmona said he believed the Surgeon General should show leadership on health issues. But his speeches were edited by political appointees, and he was told not to talk about certain issues. For example, he supported comprehensive sex education that would include abstinence in the curriculum, rather than focusing solely on abstinence. "However, there was already a policy in place that didn't want to hear the science, but wanted to -- quote, unquote -- 'preach abstinence,' which I felt was scientifically incorrect," Carmona said.
1. Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, "Health Official Claims Censorship," The Los Angeles Times, p. A10 (July 11, 2007).
2. Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, "One World, Two Distinct Diagnoses: Dueling Health Reports Fuel Criticism That the Bush White House Is Politicizing Science," The Los Angeles Times, p. A1 (July 31,2007).
3. Two documents posted by Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D - Los Angeles)... one by former Surgeon General Richard Carmona and the other by William R. Steiger, a political appointee from HHS.
4. Gardiner Harris, "Ex-Surgeon General's Maverick Side Was Bound To Appear, Friends Say," The New York Times, p. A17 (August 14, 2007).
"Dr. Carmona ... was ignored and marginalized throughout his tenure as Surgeon General," friends and colleagues said.
February 18, 2004 - - An exchange took place recently regarding current thinking on the
number of genes that might influence a species' lifespan that we feel would be useful for
everyone to follow... Dr. Aubrey de Grey of Cambridge University answered some questions
posed by another one of our members, Mr. Gary Livick, as follows:
Q: How does one naturally select for a shortened lifespan based on the portion of a population that is no longer reproducing? Evolution would need to be based on a "survival of the fittest" group, right? Otherwise, how does one reinforce a genetic accident that wipes out the aged?
A: You're missing a fundamental point: Aging happens **by default**. It is very hard work getting rid of all the entropy we need to export in order to live as long as one day. All our metabolic processes are genetically tuned to keep us alive. A genetic accident that shortens lifespan is one that impairs life-preserving processes. It is selected against to the extent that it impairs survival of the population over generations, which as you say means impairing fertility and protection of offspring until they reach maturity (plus second-order effects like grand-parenting effects, but we don't need to consider those for this purpose). The reproductive lifespan idea is actually a complete "red herring," because evolution can quite well (and indeed does) alter reproductive lifespan in tandem with total lifespan.
So in other words, in a case where (for example) a hitherto innocent population is exposed to a new predator and thus its life expectancy is reduced, we see a shortened intrinsic life expectancy (faster aging) emerge quite fast. But that's not by selection for shortened lifespan, it's LACK of selection to keep the degree of maintenance sophistication that allowed the longer lifespan before the predator arrived. This lack of selection arises because there now are too few individuals around of the age that this greater maintenance quality allowed to survive, so a random mutation that impairs a constituent process of that machinery is not selected against, so such mutations accumulate.
Q: Conversely, one can readily see how natural selection evolves a very fit child-bearing population, either able to produce many young with a few surviving, or just a few offspring with most surviving. What happens to the older members of the community seems likely to be due to chance. In that case, one would expect a lot of genes to be passively involved in the aging process, not just a few.
A: Yes, precisely, and that is exactly what we see. It's just that what the popular press calls "genes involved in the aging process" is in fact "genes involved in the ability of organisms to modulate their rate of aging in response to the environment," which is a tiny subset. The only reason those genes get such attention is that they are the ones by whose manipulation one can increase life expectancy. The thousands of genes by whose manipulation one can shorten life expectancy are ignored, on the basis that shortening lifespan is easy (e.g., with a hammer), but this is completely to miss the point that those genes are still highly relevant to the achievement of what we choose to call a normal lifespan, and hence are absolutely involved in the aging process.
"To argue that human life would be better without death is to argue that human life would
better without being human... The finitude of human life is a blessing for every individual
he knows it or not."
--- Leon R. Kass, M.D., Ph.D., Addie Clark Harding Professor at the University of Chicago, Hertog Fellow of the American Enterprise Institute, and Chairman of President George W. Bush's 17-member Council on Bioethics, as well as Shakespearean master of apologism. We believe that he is the person and who coined the phrase "The wisdom of repugnance."
Refs: p. 144, Nicholas Wade, Life Script: How the Human Genome Discoveries Will Transform Medicine and Enhance Your Health (Simon & Schuster, New York; 2001).
Leon Kass, "Mortality and Morality: The Virtue of Finitude," (1983) Toward a More Natural Science: Biology and Human Affairs, p. 308 (Free Press; New York; 1985).
Leon Kass, "Beyond Therapy: Biotechnology and the Pursuit of Happiness" A Report of the President's Council on Bioethics (328 pages; Washington, D.C.; October 2003; available for free download at www.bioethics.gov). The pre- publication version of this report carries on its cover a subtly-colored circular imprimatur or seal of an eagle with patriotic stars that certainly gives it the appearance of a document endorsed by the U.S. Government. It also contains numerous references to philosophers past, like Plato and Descartes, that gives it the look and feel of a thoughtful and scholarly work. Indeed, there are lots of neutral sentences that are evenhanded, including glossaries of technical terms. However, the ulterior motive of this document is to stop arrogant medical scientists from attempting to "play God," and risking a catalog of untoward consequences by taking their practice Beyond Therapy. Click for a more detailed point-by-point refutation.
[ Editorial Remark: We readily acknowledge that eliminating that form of death secondary to intrinsic aging would create a significantly different world than the one we are used to. But we respectfully disagree with Dr. Kass regarding its undesirability. In our view, being human is a condition that was thrust upon us (without our consent), and we see nothing intrinsically sacred about retaining the form of a mortal human being. If nothing else, Nature has proven herself to be an avid experimenter. We see no reason why we should not take some risks and do a few experiments of our own. After all, without such experimentation, the only other certainty is death.]
Here is another example of a masterful deception by an elder statesman of
apologism, who confuses complexity with magic (recall the famous quote by Sir Arthur
Clarke) and thus falls into this seductive trap of mysticism as virtue...
"... There is another form of temptation... This is the disease of curiosity ... which drives us to try and discover the secrets of Nature, those secrets which are beyond our understanding, which can avail us nothing, and which man should not wish to learn."
- Saint Augustine [354 - 430] A. D.
This form of irrational thought, as a side effect, led us to the nearly total abandonment of ancient Greek wisdom from the time of the Christian Roman Empire through centuries of the Middle Ages until the Italian Renaissance and the rediscovery of the long-lost works of Ptolemy, Galen, Archimedes, Euclid, Hippocrates, and Aristotle in Greek-to-Arabic translations that Persian and Arabic scholars had the good sense to preserve. Furthermore, it took the Roman Catholic Church 400 years to exonerate Galileo. The fallacy inherent in Augustine's thinking is the logical equivalent of my Aunt Millie who once said in the late 1970s, "We shouldn't have spent all that money on going to the moon. People should have stayed home and watched television, like God intended us to." Would God prefer one form of technology over another? Maybe in the process we should all abandon movies, radio, telephones, even electricity itself! Maybe, Aunt Millie, God intended us to be cave men and nothing more. "No." Aunt Millie would say, again invoking the name of God, "God wants us to stay home and watch television, just like me."
March 12, 2005; Humor: Occasionally, when the question is raised by
self-appointed, well-intentioned adversaries as to "whether humans should be 'wise' enough to
refuse (or even legislatively ban) efforts to dramatically slow or reverse the human aging process,
on the grounds that it would only serve to subvert the divinely-ordained status quo, our clever
answer should be, "Don't worry...
Resistance is futile," said The Borg Queen, from a cubical hive located somewhere in outer space
Biogerontological interventions are inevitable for at least two reasons (if they can be accomplished at all):
(1) Proposals to prohibit them will simply drive them under-ground or off-shore; and
(2) The Declaration of Independence declares that all American citizens possess certain inalienable rights, including Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."
And, of course, "Life" is the big enchilada!
"I believe that our generation will be the first to map a possible route to individual
immortality. The body is, at its most basic, a machine comprised of parts, and those parts can be
by ones as good as, if not better than, those provided by Nature.
--- Dr. William Haseltine, Ph.D., Biotechnology Entrepreneur, CEO of Human Genome Sciences, Rockville, Maryland, and Chairman of the Annual Conferences on Regenerative Medicine, Washington, D.C.
"Genetic prediction and prevention of diseases are likely to become so reliable in the next 25
years that our young people will wonder what life was like at the 'turn of the century' when
people sat around and waited for diseases like cancer or Alzheimer's to strike. They will be
in an era when the risks for these diseases will be predicted by genetic testing early in life and
where preventive medical strategies will be specifically dictated by an individual's genetic
This medical revolution will require psychological counseling for patients and the development
strict legal safeguards for genetic privacy."
---- Dr. Rudolph E. Tanzi, M.D., Neurobiologist and Director of the Genetics and Aging Unit of the Massachusetts General Hospital.
"In a time of finite resources, we should do well to expend more of our intellectual and
capital on improving the quality of our later years than on a self-absorbed and very likely
fanciful goal of lengthening our years beyond the 122 allotted by natural selection... What
need to do is to continue intensive research into the causes of disability and their prevention...
Better to spend our nation's money here than to waste it in the vainglorious search for
--- Dr. Sherwin B. Nuland, M.D., Clinical Professor of Surgery at Yale University, Fellow of the Yale Institution for Social and Policy Studies, and author of How We Die: Reflections on Life's Final Chapter (Knopf, Vintage, New York; 1995).
[ Editor's Note: Here are some economic facts: The US National Institute on Aging spends less than $200 million a year studying the fundamental biology of aging. Yet, the total budget for the entire NIH (of which the NIA is a part) is $28 billion. For reference, the total amount of money invested by public and private companies specifically devoted to anti-aging research is estimated to be less than $500 million. So whom do you choose? Haseltine or Nuland?]
"Science is evolving at an incredible pace. It's a revolutionary period. The fundamental
change is that biomedical science has converged. The discoveries we are making are sort of
coming closer and closer to the root of life, and they're more relevant to every disease as
well as every biological process. You can't just close your eyes and hope for the best. You have
to almost consciously say, 'OK, how do we take this into account in the bigger picture?' The
Human Genome Project is just one example. There are advances in chemical techniques,
advances in mass spectroscopy, and in imaging. We used to know one hormonal receptor system
in cells. Now we know 48. In immunology, we had one signal molecule ten years ago. Now we
have 27. We're discovering more and more biological targets... Of all the sciences we are
mastering, the life sciences are the least advanced. And this will be the core challenge for the
Century. For thousands of years, medicine has relied on what? On the fact that you have a core
group of people [doctors] to whom you go when a disease first declares itself. Well, by that time,
things are really on their way down a path of destruction. So, I believe that in this century we're
going to have to understand what I call the subclinical phase of disease, where
the disease is gathering momentum inside your body, but you are not aware of it yet. By
understanding biological systems, by understanding ... the hub proteins [and other important
molecules] perhaps we can perform "molecular prevention," allowing us to intervene earlier,
there's still a chance of doing something."
Ref. Denise Grady, "A Conversation with Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., Director of the National Institutes of Health After His First Year in Office," The New York Times, p. D3 (July 15, 2003).
"Human progress has never been achieved with unanimous consent. Those who are
enlightened first are compelled to pursue the light in spite of the others."
----- C. Columbus, 1492 (after discovering The Americas)
The co-inventor of electricity (both batteries and lightening rods), bifocals, and a new musical instrument, Benjamin Franklin, the quintessential optimist, never doubted, even for a moment, that the future of humanity lay in the power of human reason.
"The rapid progress of the sciences makes me, at times, sorry that I was born so soon...
Imagine the power that man will have over matter a few hundred years from now:
(1) We may learn how to remove gravity from large masses and float them over great distances;
(2) Agriculture will double its produce with less labor;
(3) All diseases will surely be cured, even old age.
If only the moral sciences could be improved as well. Perhaps men would cease to
be wolves to one another, and human beings will learn to be human."
-- B. Franklin, Co-Founder of the United States of America.
" Incredible things will happen in the next half-century. We'll have cellular therapies the
use of cells, either genetically engineered or natural to treat disease. We'll be building organs in
cell culture and replacing worn-out or diseased organs. We'll be putting into our bodies adult
stem cells that are modified to allow the body to make new kinds of therapeutic agents never
made before. It will be a different kind of medicine, used in attacking AIDS and cancer as well
in organ replacements. It will basically be used for all currently intractable disease. Drugs will
more specific more powerful, and they will come from a much deeper knowledge of the relevant
biology. They won't be 'shots in the dark' as some are today."
---- David Baltimore, Ph.D., President of CalTech and Nobel Laureate in Biology and Medicine
"Future Visions on the 50th Anniversary of the Discovery of DNA by Watson and Crick," Time Magazine, p. 60 (February 17, 2003).
"Famous gerontologists have often been proved wrong, but they are never in
--- Lev Landau, Russian Physicist
(Landau was actually speaking of astronomers, but the cultures are similar.)
Interviewer: As an actor, how are you dealing with the effects of get older?
"Getting older may not be any fun, but suffering the effects of aging is immensely preferable to the alternative."
--- Michael Cane, at age 70 on January 22, 2003
Click on the photo of the old man to watch him become young again...
Notice dated May 18, 2003: We have temporarily removed this short video clip. Due to excessive use of bandwidth resources, our Internet Service Provider has determined that it will no longer provide this video capability free of charge. If you really wish to see this clip, you will have to contact us by E-mail.
[ Editor's Note: An Apple QuickTime Movie Player version 5.0 or greater is required and can be obtained as a free Internet download from Apple's website. If you don't have it, check out the instructions below under October 4, 2001.]
Source: Suzanne Mangione, Denver, Colorado TV News (January 24, 1995).
Video Compression: Mr. John Davis, CEO, Beachsites, Inc.; Venice, CA (August 3, 2002).
Ref: Robert N. Butler, Michael Fossel, S. Mitchell Harman, Christopher B. Heward, S. Jay Olshansky, Thomas T. Perls, David J. Rothman, Sheila M. Rothman, Huber R. Warner, Michael D. West, and Woodring E. Wright, "Is There an Anti-Aging Medicine?" Journal of Gerontology: Biological Sciences, Vol. 57A, No. 9, pp. B333-8 (September 2002).
This review summarizes an invitation-only workshop held last Winter at the Canyon Ranch Resort in Tucson, Arizona on "existing and possible future interventions that might slow, stop, or potentially reverse human aging." The invitees also sought to recommend means to promote this field of scientific research and medical practice. Following basic definitions on the nature of aging, the paper above reviews the following interventions: (1) Caloric Restriction; (2) Genetic Engineering; (3) Anti-Oxidant Supplementation; (4) Hormone Replacement Therapy (Estrogen Replacement as well as the Growth Hormone Paradox [mouse and human GH data appear to be inconsistent]); (5) Telomere-Lengthening Strategies, and finally [my favorite] (6) Stem-Cell Therapy. But nothing is as simple as it seems. None of these techniques in the hands of present-day practitioners has done very much to advance our agenda or to give us the confidence we're seeking that anyone will accomplish anti-aging medicine in our lifetimes.
Ref: "No Truth to the Fountain of Youth," Scientific American, Vol. 286, No. 6, pp. 92-5 (June 2002).
Authors: S. Jay Olshansky (School of Public Health, University of Illinois at
Leonard Hayflick (University of California at San Francisco), and
Bruce A. Carnes (University of Chicago/National Opinion Research Center)
Beware of Products Claiming Scientific Proof That They Can Slow Aging... Fifty-one scientists who study aging have issued a warning to the public: "No Anti-Aging remedy on the market today has been proved effective." Here's why they are speaking up..."
In the past century a combination of successful public health campaigns, changes in living environments and advances in medicine have led to a dramatic increase in human life expectancy. Long lives experienced by unprecedented numbers of people in developed countries are a triumph of human ingenuity. This remarkable achievement has produced economic, political and societal changes that are both positive and negative. Although there is every reason to be optimistic that continuing progress in public health and the biomedical sciences will contribute to even longer and healthier lives in the future, a disturbing and potentially dangerous trend has also emerged in recent years. There has been a resurgence and proliferation of health care providers and entrepreneurs who are promoting Anti-Aging products and lifestyle changes that they claim will slow, stop, or reverse the processes of aging. Even though in most cases there is little or no scientific basis for these claims, the public is spending vast sums of money on these products and lifestyle changes, some of which may be harmful. Scientists are unwittingly contributing to the proliferation of these pseudoscientific Anti-Aging products by failing to participate in the public dialogue about the genuine science of aging research.
The purpose of this statement is to warn the public against the use of ineffective and potentially harmful Anti-Aging interventions and to provide a brief but authoritative consensus statement from 51 internationally-recognized scientists in the field about what we know and do not know about intervening in human aging. What follows is a list of issues related to aging that are prominent in both the lay and scientific literature, along with the consensus statements about these issues that grew out of debates and discussions among the 51 scientists associated with this paper.
To read the full "Position Statement on Aging" and its extensive list of References, click on the Explorations Section of the Scientific American Website.
Ref: Letter to Science, Vol. 296, No. 5568, p. 656 (April 26, 2002)...
"...We urge the scientific and lay community to be sure that they understand that there are currently no scientifically-proven Anti-Aging Medicines, but that legitimate and important scientific efforts are under way to develop them."
Aubrey D. N. J. de Grey, Ph.D.
Department of Genetics
University of Cambridge
Cambridge, CB2 3EH UK
Leonid Gavrilov, Ph.D.
Center on Aging
NORC/University of Chicago
1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637; USA
S. Jay Olshansky, Ph.D.
School of Public Health
University of Illinois at Chicago
1603 West Taylor Street
Chicago, IL 60612, USA
L. Stephen Coles, M.D., Ph.D.
Department of Surgery
UCLA School of Medicine
Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA
Richard G. Cutler, Ph.D.
The Kronos Group
4455 East Camelback Road
Phoenix, AZ 85018, USA
Michael Fossel, M.D. Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief
Journal of Anti-Aging Medicine
Ada, MI 49301; USA
S. Mitchell Harman, M.D., Ph.D.
The Kronos Longevity Research Institute
4455 East Camelback Road
Phoenix, AZ 85018, USA
E. T. Juengst, R.H. Binstock, M. J. Mehlman, and S. G. Post, "Policy Forum: Anti-Aging Research and the Need for Public Dialogue," Science, Vol. 299, p.1323 (February 28, 2003).
The authors are with the Department of Bioethics at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, OH.
January 21, 2002; The answer according to Jeffrey Kluger in a recent issue of Time Magazine is slim to none. Citing sources like Prof. Leonard Hayflick, Ph.D. of the University of California in San Francisco and Dr. Robert Butler, M.D. former Director of the National Institute on Aging and now Head of the International Longevity Institute in New York City, to support his argument, he concludes, "it is theoretically possible [to do genetic engineering on senescent genes or introduce proteins that block their operation], but with what could be thousands of genes involved in aging, that may be as far beyond biologists as building a starship is beyond rocket scientists."
Well, I don't think so. Of the approximately 35,000 genes identified in the human genome so far, there are likely to be no more than a few hundred gerontic (longevity-determining) genes -- not thousands of such genes. [Dr. Richard Cutler of the Kronos Longevity Research Insittute and I have a bet on this number that goes back to 1995.] But even if we allow for thousands of gerontic genes instead of hundreds, so what? Does that mean that the problem is now intractable? The fallacy of Mr. Kluger's logic is that he "reasons by analogy," and his metaphor is flawed. His logic represents a "failure of imagination." Egyptian pharaohs did not stop building pyramids because they needed thousands of stones that weren't immediately available. They had a vision. So did the Wright brothers. So did President John Kennedy when he said, "Let's send men to the moon in ten years and return them safely back to Earth"
So how do we refute Mr. Kluger's pessimistic metaphor? Answer: By providing lots of counter examples of how it could be done if we wanted to: (1) Let's say we wanted to create a giraffe with a short neck? Could this be done as a high-school science project? Certainly not today. But it might be doable in ten years by a team of focused biotechnologists. (2) Similarly, let's say that we wanted to create an elephant with a short trunk. Same answer. (3) Then. for something a lot more difficult... Let's say we start with a given four-legged mammal and ask "What genes does one need to change to adapt it to a full-time life in the sea?" (not like a polar bear or a penguin or a seal or a walrus that is well adapted to underwater ocean swimming for very long periods of time, but then spends variable amounts of time on land for other purposes). I mean like a whale, a dolphin, or a manatee that never comes on land for any purpose whatsoever.
Imagine all of the genes one would have to change
(1) to get the legs to stick together with a tail attached at the end for vertical motion propulsion (different from horizontal in the case of fish);
(2) to convert the arms and fingers to flippers;
(3) to thicken the skin with insulating blubber and fabricate a truly water proof coating (to perfectly resist the corrosive effects of salt water and really cold ocean temperatures);
(4) to get the nose to migrate from being above the mouth (where it presumably serves to smell and thereby avoid eating spoiled food in land mammals) to the top of the skull (where it can become a blow hole instead);
(5) to sphericalize the eye lenses so as to better focus on distant objects under water; and
(6) curiously to recess the testicles and penis inside the body with proper heterothermic temperature adaptations (significantly different resting temperatures in different selected parts of the body) so as to create a perfectly streamlined profile for faster swimming. Employing the jargon of computer programmers who seek to add new functionality to someone else's code, such an addition would be called a patch. Notice with regard to the latter paradox, men share with all male mammals the seemingly-bizarre predicament of having to place their testicles outside their body in a relatively vulnerable location (while, conversely, female ovaries don't seem to mind functioning at normal body temperatures) for the sake of some biochemical endothermic reaction that we really don't understand at the molecular level but which is needed to accommodate an exquisitely-stringent requirement for successful spermatogenesis. The controlling enzymatic network of genes appears to be "hard wired," as it has resisted any attempt to change it over millions of years for the sake of just a few degrees of extra heat, when we first decided that being warm-blooded had significant survival value for mammals.
Anyway, its been done! There are whales; there are dolphins; and there are manatees, who all decided that they would be better off by going back into the ocean from whence they originally came many moons ago. This fact of evolution provides an existence proof. It may have taken a few hundred million years, but recall that this reprogramming was accomplished using a "random-number generator" what we call natural section in the context of Darwinian Evolution). So maybe that's why it took so much time.
When we have completed the genomic sequencing of all mammals (from Aardvarks to Zebras) and have catalogued every protein in each type of body (to be done in the next 20 years), we will know what it takes to go back to the ocean and not just to go fishing. Therefore, adjusting the phenotype we call "lifespan," either up or down, if that's what we want to do, may suddenly become a "piece of cake" for a genomic programmer, sort of like "twisting a dial."
While it's true that building a brand new full-scale Egyptian-style pyramid is still not a high-school science project afer four thousand years, even using modern technology, nevertheless, architects and engineers could build one if we wanted to (given a proper economic incentive or a religious imperative). But it does require that we don't suffer a failure of nerve along the way. It would require a shared vision.
On a more personal note, when I worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena for eight years, I guess I could have been called a "rocket scientist" [even though my official title was "Group Chief Technologist"]. And, in my opinion, there's nothing stopping rocket scientists, in principle, from building a starship if we ever had the collective will to do so [with apologies to Gene Roddenbery of Star Trek, since our design might not look like The U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701, which we're so used to seeing on television every week].
Science and technology over the last century has shown us that we can do essentially anything we set our minds to do (providing that it doesn't violate the laws of physics). So as far as a biological starship is concerned, what are we waiting for? Perhaps someone needs to issue a new "Prime Directive" so we can get on with the engineering of a real form of Anti-Aging Medicine. -- Steve Coles
Ref: Jeffrey Kluger, "Can We Learn to Beat the Reaper? Science Has Been Winning Battles Against Old Age, But Can It Win the War?" Time Magazine, p. 102 (January 21, 2002).
As you look in the rear-view mirror, the Grim Reaper may appear further away than he really is...
May 8, 2002; Click for information on bioterrorism, particularly regarding the problem of Anthrax sent through the mails about six months ago.
October 4, 2001; A brief Apple Quicktime Video Clip originally taped ten years ago on May 31, 1991 (Original TRT = 20:30 min) comparing Control and Co-Enzyme Q-10 mice in a nutrition/longevity study conducted by Drs. Roy L. Walford, M.D. and Steven B. Harris, M.D. in the basement of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at UCLA has now been transferred from an ancient VHS Master Tape to a streaming-video format on our Earthlink.net server (TRT = 3:15 min.) thanks to a generous donation by Dr. Christopher B. Heward, Ph.D., Vice President of Research and Development at The Kronos Group in Phoenix, Arizona. [The original video was shown in public for the first time at an A4M Conference in Las Vegas back in December of 1995.] The CoQ-10 mice (in the right-hand tray) are clearly demonstrated to be significantly more active and healthy in every way compared with the controls (in the left-hand tray) who appear to be near the end of their lifespan [*] despite the fact that all the mice are genetically identical and they were all raised in an identical environment throughout their lives, except for our one experimental intervention -- dietary supplementation with CoQ-10. Click to playback our early-look low-resolution version or our high-resolution version [ Editor's Note: The high-resolution version appears to have some sort of transmission glitch on the Earthlink Server no matter what browser I use Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5, Netscape Navigator 4.7, or their latest and greatest version 6.2. Although the file runs perfectly in Quick Time as a stand-alone file from my hard drive, when running from the Earthlink server, it systematically hangs up at the point where I say, "Let's take a look inside; can we unlock the door?" and Harris says "Yes."] For more details about how to download and install a free copy of the current Apple Quick Time Movie Player (v. 5.0), click on Quick Time Player .
Notice, May 18, 2003: This video clip has been taken down from the server due to excessive bandwidth requirements. Our Internet Service Provider will no longer provide this video service free of charge due to the large number of "hits." If you really wish to see it, please contact us by E-mail.
[ Editor's Note: In order to make room for these new video clips, we were unhappily forced to delete the 34 MB video animation of Athersclerosis that had been residing on the server for past two years. If anyone still wishes to see the Athersclerosis video, they should now make special arrangements with us privately. We are essentially "out of space" on the Earthlink server (without paying substantially more storage fees per month). In order to help defray the costs of maintaining this site, donations would be greatly appreciated. If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation, please click on the "Charter" button on the frame to the left for further details.]
* Both the control mice and the experimental mice were taped near the end of the experiment when they were all aged 40.7 months, which corresponds to 85 or 90 years old in human terms. Further details of the scientific study can be found in paper published by L. Stephen Coles and Steven B. Harris, "Coenzyme Q-10 and Lifespan Extension," Advances in Anti-Aging Medicine, Vol. 1, pp. 205-215 (Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., Larchmont, NY; 1996).
"By the year 2030, we will have
(1) developed a complete model of all human cells types, obviating the need for many laboratory experiments [by doing computer simulations instead];
(2) lowered the cost of doing a complete genomic sequence for an human individual to less then $1,000 each; and
(3) cataloged all the genes involved in aging.
Therefore, human clinical trials to extend lifespan could already be underway by this date."
- - Dr. Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D., Director
National Human Genome Research Institute of the NIH and
The International Human Genome Consortium
Quotation from a European Conference on Pharmaceuticals and the Human Genome
"The cost of preparing the first draft of the human genome cost about US $300 million.
In 20 years, new technology and economies-of-scale will bring down the cost of sequencing the
human genome to around $1,000, making it definitely feasible to sequence the genome of an
individual patient for medical or research purpose."
- - Dr. David Page, Whitehead Institute, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Chairman of a panel on Cheaper Genomics at Airlie Center in Warrenton, VA (December 2001).
"We've always tampered with Nature -- Every time we plant a seed or make a medicine. In fact, all animals live by changing the world, gathering food, making shelters. We humans are just better at it. No one seeks to wantonly destroy Nature; but to improve our world, we do have to alter it."
"Let's hope we continue to tamper and create a future that's far more comfortable and kind than anything Nature ever intended."
Mr. John Stossel's Concluding Remarks
Tampering with Nature with John Stossel ABC-TV, "2020 Special," (Channel 7) aired Friday night, June 29, 2001; 10:00 PM PDT.
"No one may have the guts to say this, but if we could make better human beings by knowing how to add genes, why shouldn't we?"
Dr. James Watson, Nobel Laureate, Co-Discoverer with Francis Crick of the Structure of
DNA, and Founding Director of the NIH Human Genome Project.
Ref.: Editorial, "Risky Genetic Fantasies," The Los Angeles Times, p. M4 (July 29, 2001).
Furthermore, speaking about the potential risks of manipulating human DNA and eugenics,
Watson said, "Some people have accused us of 'Trying to play God.' But if we don't play God,
Ref.: Five Part Television Series on PBS-TV entitled DNA (Sunday Nights in January/February 2004).
"Just three years ago, the computational needs of biology were thought to be minor and irrelevant to the computing industry. Today, biologists are setting the pace of development in the industry."
J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., President and CEO of Celera Genomics of Rockville, Maryland discussing the planned next-generation massively-parallel Petaflop Supercomputer under development with Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico. [ Editor's Note: Sandia's ASCI Red Genomics Supercomputer runs at a Teraflop (1,000 Teraflops = 1 Petaflop) and is currently one of the fastest machines of its type in the world.] Ref: "Sandia, Celera, Compaq Work on Next-Generation Computing," Human Genome News, Vol. 11, Nos. 3-4, pp. 17-18 (July 2001).
"Some [30 - 50] percent of human proteins are unknown and of
unknown function But, we now have the capacity to identify the protein components of
human beings rather rapidly. It's a tractable problem, and I expect that the solution will be
obtained over the next two years."
Alma L. Burlingame of the University of California at San Francisco, "Proteomics: Biotech's Next Big Challenge," Scientific American, Vol. 286, No. 4, p. 44 (April 2002).
--- Prof. Carl Sagan
[Note: Since August 1998, you are visitor number
30,000 + ].
To examine historical snapshots of the GRG website as it appeared back in 1998, click on web.archive.org.
Is this your first time visiting the GRG site? Just for fun... sweep your mouse across our logo above to see what happens. (Look further below for another animated copy of the logo to find out what it actually means.)
The GRG website is typically updated every few days or so; therefore, we suggest that you bookmark it and plan to revisit it often.
The GRG Forum Button located to your left is now operational; we cordially invite you to post your questions/opinions for others to read. You may also join one of our ten Special Interest Groups (SIG's) and begin a continuing dialog (chat room) on one or more of these specialized topics.
To subscribe to the LA-GRG Majordomo E-mail mailing list for special announcements or time-sensitive questions (from any of our members to all of our members, and to which any of our members may reply or even form a threaded discussion that may continue over several days), please send an E-mail addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org with the body of the message containing the phrase "subscribe la-grg". The Majordomo System will recognize your own E-mail address automatically. Also, it is not necessary to place anything in the "Subject:" section of the E-mail header. Protocol dictates that all new subscribers be aware that when they send a "Reply" (or a "Reply All") they are actually replying to EVERYONE on the list, not just to the originator of the current message. For further questions about the LA-GRG community mailinglist, please contact the GRG List Administrator, Mr. Johnny Adams ( or call him at 949-640-0355 in the Orange County Area).
For Breaking News, please click on the "News" Button on the left column or else click immediately for news stories from 2003 and earlier. These stories generally have pointers to the scientific literature that have been selected (listed in reverse-chronological order) as a way to help us gage progress toward our long-term goals.
Click for archival material from earlier year(s) on the GRG website.
Friday, May 20, 2003; 3:00 PM EDT; The US Security Alert-Level Color Code has been lowered to Yellow .
Friday, January 9, 2004; 4:35 PM PST; Washington, D.C. -- CNN has just reported that the US National Security Level will be lowered from Orange (High) to Yellow (Elevated) sometime later today. This lowering has been independently confirmed by the Office of Homeland Security and has now taken effect.
Sunday, December 21, 2003, 1:30 PM EST; Washington, D.C. -- The Homeland Security Secretary Hon. Tom Ridge announced this afternoon that the US National Security Level has been raised from Yellow (Elevated) to Orange (High) indefinitely. No further information was provided to the American public other than increased communications traffic and activity by potential terrorists just before the beginning of the Holiday Season made it prudent to raise this level. A major impact will surely be felt by air travelers just before Christmas. The no-fly radius around the Federal Government in Washington, D.C. has also been widened.
We will continue to keep you informed of any breaking news in our Discussion Group if and when there is a further elevation in the US Security Level.
We recommend that you consider
White Wing Labs
for your hard to find Vitamins and Supplements.
17939 Chatsworth Street, Suite 408
Granada Hills, CA 91344-5615
Toll Free: 1-800-858-0228
Also, we recommend that you consider for DHEA, Melatonin, and specialized nutriceuticals. Emerald's "Joint Aid" is a hard-to-find Glucosamine/Chondroitin Complex especially formulated to alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
You may wish to consider
of Burbank for your computer needs.
What does our logo mean? To find out, click on it...
Use of this material for educational purposes or for public awareness is encouraged with the written consent of GRG Interactive. All Rights Reserved.
As soon as they are published, GRG Interactive plans to comply with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Policy Guidelines regarding the privacy of individuals who visit this site.
Click for more details.
On March 22, 2000, we are hereby posting a proposed Medical Website Code-of-Ethics for review. Click for more details .
We subscribe to the HONcode Principles of the Health-On-the-Net Foundation.
For the Principles Governing Medical WebSites recently established by the American Medical Associaton, see Guidelines for Medical and Health Information Sites on the Internet.
The GRG is currently in discussions with Hi-Ethics (a Washington, D.C.-based coalition of 20 large commercial health websites), the American Accreditation Health Care Commission ( URAC ), the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO), and the Internet Healthcare Coalition ( eHealth Code of Ethics in conjunction with the Hastings Center of Garrison, New York [a bioethics research institute]) regarding our participation in their accreditation programs.
We have also registered this site with the Internet Content
Rating Association (formerly the Recreational Software Advisory Council for the
Internet) for the benefit of those educational institutions or individual viewers who have
taken the trouble to set their browser standards for objectionable material ("NetWatch" for
Netscape Communicator 3.x and above and "Content Advisor" for Microsoft Internet
Explorer 3.x and above).
Click for more details.