The Lifespan Society of British Columbia is proud to present its third annual conference. Join us as we explore recent developments in biotechnology, personal genomics and quantified-self.
This event will be held at SFU's Segal building in downtown Vancouver. Our keynote speaker, Dr. Aubrey de Grey, will be presenting on the latest developments in biorejuvenation at SENS Research Foundation. Aubrey has not been to Vancouver in over 10 years so this is an exclusive experience.
Get ahead of the crowd by purchasing early bird tickets before they sell out! Get to meet our keynote speaker, Aubrey and other attendees by purchasing VIP tickets which include reserved front-row seating and a three-course meal (vegetarian option available).
Dr. Aubrey de Grey
Dr. Aubrey de Grey is a biomedical gerontologist based in Cambridge, UK and Mountain View, California, USA, and is the Chief Science Officer of SENS Research Foundation, a California-based 501(c)(3) charity dedicated to combating the aging process. He is also Editor-in-Chief of Rejuvenation Research, the world’s highest-impact peer-reviewed journal focused on intervention in aging. He received his BA and Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in 1985 and 2000 respectively. His research interests encompass the characterisation of all the accumulating and eventually pathogenic molecular and cellular side-effects of metabolism ("damage”) that constitute mammalian aging and the design of interventions to repair and/or obviate that damage. Dr. de Grey is a Fellow of both the Gerontological Society of America and the American Aging Association, and sits on the editorial and scientific advisory boards of numerous journals and organisations.
Dr. Aubrey Describes his Talk:
"It may seem premature to be discussing the comprehensive medical conquest of human aging when so little progress has yet been made in even postponing it. However, two facts undermine this assessment. The first is that aging happens throughout our lives but only causes ill-health after middle age: this shows that we can postpone that ill-health without knowing how to prevent aging completely, but instead by molecular and cellular repair. The second is that regenerative medicine is now advancing from a futuristic twinkle in a few visionaries' eyes to a realistic strategy for addressing numerous medical conditions. In this talk I will explain why therapies that can add 30 healthy years to the remaining lifespan of typical 60-year-olds may well arrive within the next few decades, with an emphasis on recent progress both in SENS Research Foundation's own work and elsewhere."
Dr. Clinton Mielke
Dr. Clinton (Cosmo) Mielke completed his doctoral research at the Mayo Clinic on insulin signaling and resistance in skeletal muscle. Cosmo's current research interests include the genetic basis of obesity (specifically in genes that regulate overall metabolism), eating behavior, and sleep. He is the founder of infino.me, a non-profit organization that uses quantified-self equipment to gather information in order to identify and cure chronic diseases. For more information, you can visit his website.
Cosmo will be presenting a talk titled: "Genetic/Neurological Factors Underlying Health And Lifespan"
"I'll be presenting an overview of my previous research of how insulin resistance manifests in our skeletal muscles as a runaway inflammatory and atrophy process that is sparked by genetic predispositions to type II diabetes. I will then give a compelling overview of the evidence that much of our overall health is influenced by hypothalamic control centers in the brain, and that overall longevity is based on factors that influence our metabolism and body weight. Finally, I'll be discussing a nonprofit startup that I have been working on which hopes to bring democratic genomic research to the masses to bring about a revolution in anti-aging research." - Cosmo
Dr. S. Jay Olshansky
S. Jay Olshansky received his Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Chicago in 1984. He is currently a Professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Research Associate at the Center on Aging at the University of Chicago and at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The focus of his research to date has been on estimates of the upper limits to human longevity, exploring the health and public policy implications associated with individual and population aging, forecasts of the size, survival, and age structure of the population, pursuit of the scientific means to slow aging in people (The Longevity Dividend), and global implications of the re-emergence of infectious and parasitic diseases. Dr. Olshansky is on the Board of Directors of the American Federation of Aging Research and is the first author of The Quest for Immortality: Science at the Frontiers of Aging (Norton, 2001).
Dr. Angela Brooks-Wilson
Dr. Angela Brooks-Wilson is the Head of Cancer Genetics at the Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre at the BC Cancer Agency. She is also a professor in the Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology at Simon Fraser University. She has done research in a variety of areas including healthy aging. She is currently leading a team that studies the genetic factors that underlie healthy aging and resistance to common age-related diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular and pulmonary disease.
After weeks of work we had over 150 people show up for a picture in our UV Photo Booth at the Vancouver Mini-Maker Faire this year. This is our first time presenting this booth to the public and it was well-received. We had a preview screen so people could see their photos right after we took them and they had the option of entering their email address to get a higher resolution picture.
The UV Photo shows how protected our skin is against the sun. If sunscreen was applied the person appeared darker in the UV Photo because the UV light was unable to penetrate the skin. The photo also showed light patches were people missed the application of sunscreen. Some people had darker skin and the UV Photo showed how naturally protected they are against the sun as they appeared darker in the UV photo. I was impressed that nearly half of you were wearing sun screen. However, most people forgot to reapply it because there were light spots where the sunscreen had begun to wear away. Most sunscreen wears off within 3-4 hours.
For people not wearing sunscreen that day, the UV Photo was able to show past or recent sun damage. The skin damaged by the sun also shows up darker than undamaged skin. UV light penetrates the skin more than visible light so scars and freckles are highlighted that may not be visible. It was interesting how people with glasses and hats showed up in UV Photos; the photo clearly showed which parts of their faces were covered or not. People who had recently been burned had darker UV Photos than people who hadn't.
We had a few participates describe their UV Photos as "Zombie Photos”, here’s my "Zombie” pic.
Here at the Lifespan Society we're focused on keeping up
on the latest ways to stay healthy because we plan on enjoying life for a long time. I hope to see you soon at one of our upcoming activities.
Lifespan members show up for the first hike of the spring. They say April showers (but may flowers) and we expected rain but we were pleasantly surprised to have encountered sunshine the entire duration of the walk. Terra Nova Rural Park has beautiful views of the city, airport and tidal estuary. Vancouver weather is puzzling sometimes and I actually had to bring sunglasses and an umbrella, but I was glad to have only had to use my sunglasses.
After our walk we had a nice lunch indoors while it started to rain (good timing). We ended up discussing bitcoin taxes and soylent. One of our members will be among the first people in the entire country to receive Soylent meal replacement. We’re all curious about how it will turn out for him.
Anyways, I hope we can catch you at our next event (facebook or meetup).
Cryonics is one area of radical life extension that Lifespan
BC provides information on. We hosted
the first "Super Cool Cryonics Party” in Vancouver on a Saturday evening and
tried to get everyone to wear blue. Within
this casual setting, we provided information about the basic science of
cryonics and answered any questions people had.
Our turnout from the Less Wrong or Vancouver Rationalist Group was
pretty high, a number of their philosophies overlap with ours. Keegan, Luke and I are all Alcor members but
we provided information about all the cryonics providers in the states and how
to fund the procedure. The providers we
briefly went over: Alcor Life Extension Foundation, Cryonics Institute and the
new Oregon Cryonics. We also quickly covered
After the information meeting we headed to James’ place to
make liquid nitrogen ice-cream. It was a
blast and we learned about the chemical properties of nitrogen and made
delicious ice-cream. We also shattered a
few objects like a banana peel. You can watch a short video of this process on youtube.
ice-cream turned out really well, better than I thought it would be; it was very
even and smooth and creamy. We hope to
host more social events like this in the future, so you can find us on
meetup.com or facebook.
Lifespan Society of B.C. is proud to have
hosted our second annual mini-conference in downtown Vancouver on December 7th,
2013. The theme of this year’s event was
"Life Extension and Your Brain” and featured three presentations on longevity
and brain health, followed by a panel discussion and Q&A with all three
speakers. Following the success of last year’s conference, we saw a great
turnout of both Lifespan members and the general public, including some from
outside the province. If you missed this conference, we have the talks on our youtube channel.
The first talk was presented by resident
medical student Hans Wu, titled "Nutrition+ and Brain Health” which explored
evidence-based nutrition and supplementation with a focus on promoting
long-term brain health. Hans’ talk
examined the major contributing factors to cognitive decline and dementias such
as Alzheimer’s. Out of many contributing
factors, he singled out diet as being the most significant. He elaborated on the Mediterranean diet’s
preventative benefits against mild cognitive impairment- especially in
combination with olive oil consumption. Hans
addressed the issue of supplementation by selecting two supplements of
particular interest for the prevention of dementia: lithium and creatine. Lithium is better known for its therapeutic
use as a mood stabilizer and Hans shared two compelling studies that show that
in very small doses lithium reduces rates of suicide across populations. As there is a well-established correlation
between depression and development of dementia, this means that lithium could
well be a previously unrecognized essential mineral that reduces risk of
dementia. Creatine is a supplement Hans
promoted for its brain health benefits, in particular for vegetarians. He also highlighted the risk of toxins, in
particular mercury and cautioned against including certain types of fish that
tend to have higher levels of mercury present.
Both physical and mental exercises are important for staving off
cognitive decline, but Hans stressed that mental exercises must be challenging
and involve learning new skills or knowledge. Lastly, Hans reminded the
audience of the brain health benefits of sleep and stress reduction. Hans’ talk
was followed by a Q&A session where he answered questions relating to his
presentation as well as his personal nutrition regime, which he has designed over
the course of many years based on his research on disease prevention and
whole-body health, from rigorously evidence-based sources.
Dano Morrison’s presentation "Use or Lose
It: Cognitive Exercise for Extending Longevity” explored the various forms of
cognitive exercises and their potential effects on brain health over the long
term. Dano expanded upon Hans’ talk by
discussing key factors that affect cognitive decline and offering strategies
for mitigating mild cognitive impairment.
Dano opened with a list of lifestyle factors that decrease dementia risk,
which included level of education, engaging leisure activities, intellectually
challenging careers and I.Q. He
continued by introducing the concept of cognitive reserve which, loosely
defined, is the capacity of a brain to cope with degeneration. To elaborate on the idea of cognitive reserve,
Dano shared a study where subjects with Alzheimer’s dementia appeared to use
different parts of their brain in response to a working memory test, in
accordance with their highest level of completed education.
Dano discussed a recent review paper that
concluded that many of the studies on brain training exercises were
methodologically flawed, the few quality studies he uncovered suggested that any
gains from brain training are narrow and largely temporary, further there was
no evidence that these games transferred to general function in healthy adults.
However, brain training does potentially improve cognitive and behavioral
deficits in patients with mild cognitive impairment.
The next subject Dano explored was the
possible role of meditation in improving cognitive function. He explained how
current research demonstrates how meditation can result in structural changes
in the brain, leading to cognitive improvement. Long-term meditation is
associated with improved attention, emotional regulation, working memory, and
executive function. Furthermore,
meditation training in patients with mild cognitive impairment lead to
increased connectivity in memory-related networks. Dano’s talk stimulated a lot
of questions and insightful conversation particularly on the topic of
final speaker Keegan Macintosh began his presentation by briefly dispelling
some of the common myths surrounding cryonics (hint: Walt Disney was not
cryopreserved), before moving on to a more detailed look at the premises of the
cryonics hypothesis and the growing indirect evidence supporting it, including
an example of naturally occurring "cryobiosis" in the animal kingdom.
He went on to explain in more detail how cryoprotectants work to protect
tissue from ice damage, and the recent development of vitrification techniques
and research into the viability of vitrified brain tissue. Then, Keegan
outlined the cryonics procedure as carried out today with human patients.
second half of Keegan’s talk moved onto a brief historical overview of the
inception and development of cryonics into its current form, honing in on
Canada and British Columbia, which enacted the first (and only) explicitly
anti-cryonics law in 1990. He tracked the activity of Canadian cryonics
advocates to ascertain why the law was enacted, and to have it removed or at
least explained in the years since. This led to the formation of a cryonics
and life extension advocacy group in Vancouver, which ultimately gave rise to
Lifespan Society. Keegan closed with a discussion about the steps being
taken by Lifespan to improve access to cryonics in B.C., in light of the anti-cryonics
law and the changing legal landscape.
panel discussion that concluded the conference gave attendees the chance to ask
our presenters follow up questions about their talks and present new questions
on a variety of brain health topics. Questions
from the audience ranged from promising curative therapies for
neurodegenerative diseases to the potential role of personal genomics services
such as 23andme. Discussion generated during the panel session proved both
insightful and well informed, largely due to the level of knowledge demonstrated
by the audience. Following the panel,
attendees were invited to join Lifespan at a separate venue for dinner to
continue discussion on the topics of the day and share their interests with
other health and longevity enthusiasts.