Health & FitnessPodcast

Aubrey de Grey: How & Why We Must Defeat Aging

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“The whole concept of aging itself is just meaningless.”
— Dr. Aubrey de Grey

Greetings, SuperFriends!

Today, we are joined by Aubrey de Grey, biomedical gerontologist and Chief Science Officer of the SENS research foundation, and co-author of the book Ending Aging. You might know Aubrey from his appearances on 60 minutes, the BBC, The New York Times, Fortune, the Colbert Report, or his popular TED Talk. If you’ve heard him speak before, you’ll know that he is one of the chief drivers behind the view that medical technology may one day enable people alive today to live… well, forever.

Through his research on regenerative medicine, and what he calls “Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence, or SENS,” de Grey has proposed a number of ways to not only slow, but even stop and reverse the effects of age on the human body.

During the episode, we talk about these methods, the effects of aging, and also raise some of the ethical and practical issues surrounding the idea of a-mortality. We talk about learning, and I was just blown away by how much knowledge and expertise my guest has accumulated – and how he has accumulated it. We also have an absolutely fascinating and engaging conversation about the potential of the future, and what humanity may look like in 20 or 30 years. We truly dive into the idea of what it might be to be “superhuman,” and the resulting conversation will definitely blow your mind.

For those of you who really love the heavy, sciencey episodes where we geek out on technical terms, you’re really going to love this episode, and for those of you who don’t, well, you’re going to learn a whole hell of a lot about your body and how it ages, and I’m quite sure you’ll get a kick out of my guest’s combination of jaw dropping wit and dry British humor.


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In this episode, we discuss:

  • How did Dr. Aubrey de Grey become one of the leading thinkers in anti-aging and futurism?
  • What tactics has used Dr. Aubrey de Grey to learn so much so fast?
  • Why is aging a “problem” that we need to solve?
  • Is the goal of SENS’ work to become immortal? Amortal?
  • Should we worry about the environmental impact of people living to the age of 200?
  • Is there someone living today who will live forever?
  • Does Aubrey de Grey want to live forever? (The answer may surprise you!)
  • An in-depth explanation of the 7 different ways that the human body ages
    • Plus, how researchers are working to beat each one of them
  • Does calorie restriction actually work for extending life expectancy?
  • What will anti-aging treatments look like in 10 years? 20 years? 50 years?
  • Is there anything you can do at home to slow or stop your own aging?
  • What big takeaway would Dr. Aubrey de Grey like you to take away from this episode?

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Favorite Quotes from Aubrey de Grey:

“Everyone must know that aging is the world’s most important problem.”
“One of the biggest problems that the world has is that we have to spend most of our time doing things that we wouldn’t do if we weren’t paid for them.”
“People have in their heads this bizarre idea that there’s this thing called ‘aging’ itself, which is somehow completely distinct… but that’s nonsense.”
“I don’t think it’s stupid to ask these types of questions… What frustrates me is that people never listen to the answers!”
“You’ve been watching too many films.”
“Aging is really NOT a phenomenon of biology at all. It’s a phenomenon of physics.”
“You see, evolution doesn’t care about old people.”
“Magic bullets are a bit of a distraction in aging research.”



Jonathan Levi is an experienced entrepreneur and angel investor from Silicon Valley.

After successfully selling his Inc 5,000 rated startup in April of 2011, Levi enlisted the help of speed-reading expert and university professor Anna Goldentouch, who tutored him in speed-reading, advanced memorization, and more. Levi saw incredible results while earning his MBA from INSEAD, and later went on to teach a best-selling online course on the subject. With this unique skill, he has become a proficient lifehacker, optimizing and "hacking" such processes as travel, sleep, language learning, and fitness.

  • Peter Joosten

    I liked this episode a lot. Thanks Jonathan! I am fascinated by the work of Aubrey.

  • Dr Johnty

    I support Aubrey de Grey’s work 100% and share his view that people just don’t get it. In most cases the current approach to treating the diseases of aging is akin to offering someone with cancer a codeine pill, in other words we are ameliorating the symptoms whilst doing little to attack the underlying root cause of the problem which is aging itself. If we chose to tackle aging by repairing the accumulated damage which arises at a cellular and molecular level instead of treating the end result then the diseases of aging such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes and osteoarthritis would be reduced by around 95% because these diseases are primarily a direct consequence of old age and rarely afflict young people.

    Throughout our history if there has been a route by which we can lead healthier, happier and more productive lives we have tended to take it and that is the reason why anti-aging medicine will progress down exactly the same path and why the many nonsensical arguments – most of which appear here – against controlling aging have no validity at all.

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  • Mushroom overlord

    I think its imperative that everyone concerned with learning development and health and fitness, especially those of us who spend lots of money on.various strategies courses etc is to think carefully about the payoffs between what we actually get from it and from what we might get if we were to redistribute a portion of those funds to Aubreys research…. its shocking that billions are spent every year perhaps experimentally on trying things that, if we were honest with ourselves, have no way of knowing whether they’re going to make that much difference over the long term… it would suck to spend or rather waste all that money which would have returned exponential benefits if it had been given upfront to the research that’s going to make the biggest difference over the long term.

  • Kaleb Smith

    “Everyone must know that aging is the world’s most important problem.”

    Everyone must know that OVERPOPULATION is the world’s most important problem.

    Seriously, take your wrinkle creams and shove them!

    Either we get over our fear of the cycle of death, or we stop making babies… Continually pumping out progeny while never dying is like pouring gasoline on an already burning home.

    • Steve Hill

      Dont be ridiculous. Its got nothing to do with the fear of death its about the love of life. All living creatures strive to survive and if you want to lie down and accept the situation we will send you a Darwin Award.

      Overpopulation has been repeatedly shown to be a flawed argument because it operates from the basis of current understanding of technology and carrying capacity of the planet. However technologies are arriving that will increase that carrying capapcity.

      This science has nothing to do with wrinkle creams and everything to do with treating age related diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease with the delightful side effect that in treating them you may live a healthier longer life.

      You obviously do not understand the difference between regenerative medicine and bullshit stuff made by loreal. So with all due respect take your deathist ideals and shove them where you suggest people shove their wrinkle creams!

    • nikkisixx101

      Overpopulation is a complete myth. Population is contracting in most developed countries the only reason it keeps going up is immigration.

    • Ceci Pipe

      Overpopulation is less of a problem than overconsumption. Cities grow ever larger, and more food is grown, but neither needs to happen. The amount of waste with food is… Nuts. And if we cut back on personal yards by implementing communal spaces, and made every building at least ten stories, then we could have the size of our cities.

      Such concentration would further increase the efficiency of public transport, and increased usage would mean less oil used.

      See how this works?

      You get to be a selfish bastard or we get to easily have ten billion people.

  • Steve Hill

    I 100% support SENS and its quest to treat age related diseases. It isnt nonsense and the peer reviewed papers they are producing are increasingly showing the scientific community and public that these ideas can work. To those who do not work in the lab it can seem like magic or fantasy but I can tell you for a fact amazing things are happening in the labs on the road to treating age related diseases. On the plus side in treating these diseases we may also live longer and importantly healthier lives. I am very much in favour as that idea and do not share the foolish idea that life is a cycle.

  • gatorallin

    I was hoping we would have a mouse that could live to 5 by now.. but No. We do some great things to halt early death, but thus far we have done almost nothing to extend Max Lifespan. I have a feeling this Crispr9 tool is going to be the amazing difference to help reduce disease, but also heal us beyond our normal lifespan.

  • Warren Rawlings

    I would LOVE to give you a glowing review on Google Play but I can’t seem to find a place to perform that function. I’m not a user of that platform, so do I need to be subscribed to give a review? Thanks for so many great interviews!

    • Jonathan Levi

      No clue… Best to get reviews on iTunes I think 🙂
      Thanks so much for the kind words!

  • blipton

    While inflammation is vital for survival and coping with infections, it is usually considered to be responsible for aging… so the idea that the accumulation of damage that goes un-repaired, starting as a fetus, is what ultimately leads to diseases of old age is an interesting one.

    I would have like to hear his take on shortening telomeres and whether that causes aging. While shelterins protect DNA degradation, tinkering with them (via telomerase for example) may be defeating the body’s natural response to cancer.

    Dr Aubrey however seems to quickly dismiss anything that his lab isn’t researching… For example, while studies of calorie restriction (CR) on longevity in humans has yet to be done, the markers of aging (high IGF-1 / chronic elevated mTOR levels) go down during CR. Isn’t that significant? IGF-1/mTOR are needed for muscle growth, and appear to be protective against Alzheimer’s, perhaps this is why he dismisses it?

    On the Rhonda Patrick podcast he talks more about epigentics (methylation, chromatin etc) and how even though the aging process has a very specific methalyation pattern, that too is not significant. He does however seem positive on using CRISPR to down regulate excess inflammatory processes.

    • blipton

      In case anyone is interested, there was a great episode of the Tim Ferriss podcast (“Life Extension Pilgrimage”) with David Sabatini, Peter Attia, and Navdeep Chandel, where they talk about rapamycin – it’s history and how it mimics fasting. They also mention how the researcher (Suren Sehgal) that saved the Easter Island bacteria that makes rapamycin, was even able to halt his metastatic colon cancer with it!

      Interestingly, despite the potential upside (longevity/cancer-prevention), and few downsides (mouth sores, decreased insulin sensitivity etc) of taking intermittent rapamycin, many researchers that study it (David Sabatini, Valter Longo,etc ) still aren’t in favor of supplementing with it! Equally strange is if rapamycin acts as an immune suppressant for organ transplants, how can it also be used for helping the elderly that have a poor responding immune system? Or how can something that’s produced by bacteria, be anti-bacterial/fungal!

      Even though it was a 3+ hour episode, there was so much more that they could have talked about.. for example, with mTORC1 and mTORC2 and how affecting the former yields the anti-aging function, whereas tinkering with the latter affects sugar metabolism… or the science behind why GABA is often taken with rapamycin… or how oxaloacetate acid (OAA) -> malate (malic acid) can also mimic fasting (by activating AMPK/DAF-16).

      • Jonathan Levi

        Thanks for sharing!