WHAT IS THE PALO ALTO LONGEVITY PRIZE?
The Palo Alto Longevity Prize (the “Prize”) is a $1 million life science competition dedicated to ending aging. Ours is one of a growing number of initiatives around the world pursuing this goal—the more shots on goal the better. Through an incentive prize, our specific aim is to nurture innovations that end aging by restoring the body’s homeostatic capacity and promoting the extension of a sustained and healthy lifespan.
HOW WILL $1 MILLION BE AWARDED?
The $1 million will be awarded in two prizes, and teams may compete for one or both prizes. A $500,000 Homeostatic Capacity Prize will be awarded to the first team to demonstrate that it can restore homeostatic capacity (using heart rate variability as the surrogate measure) of an aging reference mammal to that of a young adult. A $500,000 Longevity Demonstration Prize will be awarded to the first team that can extend the lifespan of its reference mammal by 50% of acceptable published norms. Demonstration must use an approach that restores homeostatic capacity to increase lifespan.
|Launch prize and open registration||September 9, 2014|
|Public commenting on rules opens||September 9, 2014|
|Public commenting on rules closes||November 15, 2014|
|First registration deadline for teams closes||January 15, 2015|
|Second registration deadline for teams closes||June 15, 2015|
|Homeostatic Capacity Prize ends||June 15, 2016|
|Longevity Demonstration Prize ends||September 9, 2018|
* Timeline to be finalized by November 15th after public commenting period ends.
Registration Deadlines & Registration Fees:
The first registration deadline for teams to enter the competition is January 15, 2015. The registration fee until January 15, 2015 is $1,000.00 per team.
The second registration deadline for teams to enter the competition is June 15, 2015. The registration fee from January 16, 2015 to June 15, 2015 is $2,000.00 per team.
On June 16, 2015, team registration will be closed, but teams that are officially registered may take on new team members and/or collaborate with other entities. The registration fees from all applicants will be added to the prize purses equally and will be awarded to the winning teams at the end of the competition. Teams that would like to request a waiver of the registration fee may submit a request for a waiver with their application.
WHO IS SPONSORING THE PRIZE?
Joon Yun, M.D., is personally sponsoring the Palo Alto Longevity Prize through the Palo Alto Institute, a private foundation. Dr. Yun is the President of Palo Alto Investors, LLC, founded in 1989 with $1 billion assets under management invested in healthcare. Dr. Yun is board certified in radiology, and served on the clinical staff at Stanford Hospital. Dr. Yun received a B.A. in biology from Harvard and a M.D. from Duke. He is a contributor to Forbes.
IS THE PRIZE RELATED TO GOOGLE’S NEW COMPANY CALICO?
No. The Palo Alto Prize is a privately-funded, communal effort dedicated to ending aging. We are one of a growing number of initiatives aimed at ending aging. The more shots on goal we take as a society the better. We are all ultimately on the same team.
CAN OTHERS SUPPORT THE PRIZE?
Yes. While we have a policy of non-solicitation, if individuals, foundations or companies share our vision and would like to offer support, we would be happy to discuss ways to support the Prize, support the teams that are competing or otherwise advance the cause of ending aging.
WHO CAN COMPETE FOR THE PRIZE?
To be eligible to compete, a team must be comply with all the terms of the Master Team Agreement which will be released after November 15, 2014. The Master Team Agreement will contain a number of restrictions on potential entrants that are intended to prevent conflicts of interest. Potential teams are also subject to these restrictions. Further, members of the judging panel of the Prize may neither participate in nor have financial interest in any team.
WHAT TEAMS ARE COMPETING FOR THE PRIZE?
For more information on all of the teams that are competing for the Prize, please see the teams section of the website.
WHAT IS THE APPLICATION PROCESS?
Each team that is interested in competing for the Palo Alto Longevity Prize must fill out an Intent to Compete Application. Submission of the Intent to Compete Application does not automatically enter the team into the competition. Registration must be approved and accepted by the Palo Alto Longevity Prize in order for a team to compete and be eligible to receive any Prizes.
IS THERE FUNDING AVAILABLE FOR TEAMS THAT WANT TO COMPETE?
We realize that great ideas often require funding, which is traditionally obtained through a lengthy and arduous grant process. While the Palo Alto Prize organization itself does not provide teams with funding, we are working with a number of angel investors, venture capital firms, corporate venture arms, institutions and private foundations to provide access to additional capital to the teams during the competition. While the Palo Alto Prize will help facilitate introductions, all transactions and due diligence will be done privately between the teams and potential investors and philanthropists.
DO TEAMS HAVE TO GIVE UP ANY OF THEIR IP TO COMPETE FOR THE PRIZE?
No. In fact, to enable a rapid commercial path forward for the innovations, the sponsor of the Prize will be contributing an existing pool of relevant intellectual property to the Prize effort.
DO TEAMS HAVE TO DIVULGE WHAT THEIR APPROACH IS TO ENTER THE COMPETITION?
Teams must submit a brief technical description of the proposed intervention/technology (up to 3 pages long). They do not have to disclose any confidential or proprietary information.
WHO ARE THE JUDGES?
The Palo Alto Longevity Prize organizers will select a number of highly qualified, independent, and impartial judge candidates and submit them to the competition’s Advisory Board for review and approval. Members of the judging panel will have cross-functional and relevant backgrounds in order to ensure that the judging panel will be able to address all of the requirements of the competition.
WHAT IS HOMEOSTATIC CAPACITY
Homeostatic capacity is the capability of systems to self-stabilize in response to stressors. A simple way to visualize homeostatic capacity is to imagine a WeebleTM, the popular self-centering children’s toy. For organisms, it is life’s foundational trait—itself comprised of a hierarchy and network of traits—endowed by nature and shaped by selection.
IS HEART RATE VARIABILITY A USEFUL BIOMARKER OF HOMEOSTATIC CAPACITY?
Homeostatic capacity comprises a multidimensional network of traits and operates at all scales of biology including at molecular, cellular, physiologic, organismal, and systems levels. For the purposes of the Prize, heart rate variability (HRV) was chosen as a biomarker of homeostatic capacity. Like many fields, the HRV field is not without controversy with differing points of view. On the positive side, HRV represents an intriguing biomarker for homeostatic capacity for the following reasons:
- HRV, a measure of cardiac autonomic function, is a proxy for autonomic nervous system function, one of the fundamental physiologic systems governing organismal homeostasis.
- HRV can be measured non-invasively and safely using a diverse array of tools a little variable cost.
- HRV measurement tools (including those available on personal mobile devices) already have a global footprint around the world.
- Autonomic dysfunction, as assessed by HRV, is associated with the panoply of aging diseases.
- Therapies that ameliorate the diseases of aging, reduce mortality rates, and improve longevity such as exercise, sleep, smoking cessation and caloric reduction have been shown to also improve HRV.
- Therapies that are known to promote health outcomes such as meditation, yoga, acupuncture and other alternative medicine treatments have been shown to improve HRV.
- Chronic stress, which has been shown to exacerbate diseases of aging, increase mortality rates, and shorten longevity, lowers HRV.
- HRV measurements via continuous fetal scalp monitoring have been used to prognosticate fetal distress and risk of mortality since 1965.
WHAT ARE THE SOCIETAL IMPLICATIONS IF SOMEONE SOLVES THIS CHALLENGE?
Cracking the code on the fundamental aging process may allow us to influence the actual biology of aging, thereby slowing or resolving the process of aging and many diseases and issues related to aging. If we solve this, we all win!
WHY ISN’T THE PRIZE MORE NARROWLY FOCUSED TO TARGET THE BRAIN?
Focusing on homeostatic capacity of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) as the central mediator may not be perfect but we think its undervalued in the aging process. The ANS is a two way communication system. The brain sends signals through the ANS to various systems in the body and the ANS communicates signals from these systems back to the brain. HRV gives us an indication of when the body’s self-regulating feedback might be stuck due to diminished homeostatic capacity.