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S. Jay Olshansky is one of the researchers behind the Longevity Dividend initiative, a long-standing and fairly conservative academic initiative aimed at producing far greater funding for research to slow aging. It is one of a number of groups attempting to change the present academic and public research edifice from the inside. Olshansky recently issued a call to action, arguing for the research community to focus on increased healthspan rather than increased lifespan. From my perspective he makes this argument for all the wrong reasons, based on an expectation that it will prove impossible to produce large gains, say two decades or more, in either life span or health span in our lifetimes. This is actually a fairly common viewpoint among researchers, many of whom believe (a) that the only viable way forward is through incremental alteration of the processes of metabolism in later life, an enormously slow and expensive proposition with a limited potential to produce benefits, or (b) that biology is too complex for the existence of any simple strategy to produce sizable improvements in life span.

S. Jay OlshanskyLongevity Dividendhealthspanincremental alteration of the processes of metabolism

For my part, I’m not sure that it much matters whether the focus

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