Geroscience: Addressing the mismatch between its exciting research opportunities, its economic imperative and its current funding crisis
There is at present a huge disconnect between levels of funding for basic research on fundamental mechanisms of biological aging and, given demographic projections, the anticipated enormous social and economic impacts of a litany of chronic diseases for which aging is by far the major risk factor: One valuable approach, recently instigated by Felipe Sierra & colleagues at the US National Institute on Aging, is the development of a Geroscience Interest Group among virtually all of the NIH institutes. A complementary approach would be to seek major escalations of private funding. The American Federation for Aging Research, the Paul Glenn Foundation and the Ellison Medical Foundation pioneered efforts by the private sector to provide substantial supplements to public sources of funding. It is time for our community to organize efforts towards the enhancements of such crucial contributions, especially in support of the emerging generation of young investigators, many of whom are leaving our ranks to seek alternative employment. To do so, we must provide potential donors with strong economic, humanitarian and scientific rationales. An initial approach to such efforts is briefly outlined in this manuscript as a basis for wider discussions within our community.