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Best College Major for a Career in Life Extension?


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Poll: Best College Major (25 member(s) have cast votes)

Which course of study would most prepare one to extend lifespans?

  1. Applied Mathematics-Biology (3 votes [12.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 12.00%

  2. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (15 votes [60.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 60.00%

  3. Biomedical Engineering (4 votes [16.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 16.00%

  4. Biophysics (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  5. Computational Biology (2 votes [8.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 8.00%

  6. Human Biology (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  7. Biology (1 votes [4.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 4.00%

  8. Other pre-made major (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  9. Original major (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

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#1 Jenn

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Posted 04 May 2009 - 12:56 AM


I have dedicated my life to eradicating death, so I'm trying to figure out which college major will most prepare me to reverse the aging process. I originally planned on Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, but after reading about the benefits of an engineering approach to biological systems in On Ending Aging, I'm leaning towards Biomedical Engineering. Since I'm going to Brown University next year, creating my own major from scratch is also an option.

Would you suggest one of the pre-made majors or an original one? If an original one is best, what should it include?


Specific Major (Concentration) Details:
http://bms.brown.edu/bug/conc3.html

#2 Cyberbrain

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Posted 04 May 2009 - 01:19 AM

Hello Jenn and welcome to Imminst! :)

Since it seems you'll be wanting to go into the bio aspect rather than the cybernetic one of life extension, either one of the following or a combination of them to make a custom major would be best in my opinion:

Computational Biology
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Biomedical Engineering

Human Biology: seems to be too much humanities and social sciences
Biophysics: seems too much applied physics and math rather then a focus in the bio-sciences

Other pre-made major: I don't know if they're offered at Brown but I'd recommend you look into :)
-Bioinformatics
-Bioengineering
-Biotechnology

My overall opinion would be to do either a custom degree or a dual five year degree in
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
and Biomedical Engineering :~

Edited by Cyberbrain, 04 May 2009 - 01:20 AM.


#3 niner

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Posted 04 May 2009 - 02:40 AM

Welcome to ImmInst, Jenn. My vote is for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, as that is really the nuts and bolts of the work that needs to be done in order to develop real life extension. When Aubrey de Grey talks about an engineering approach, it has more to do with the way of thinking about the problem than the nature of solutions. I suspect that most of the solutions, in the end, will derive from biochemistry. IMHO, the Bioengineering major is too much engineering and not enough bio. Likewise, comp bio is too much comp and not enough bio. Good luck with it! The world needs people like you.

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#4 lunarsolarpower

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Posted 04 May 2009 - 06:15 AM

Another way to approach this is to ask what narrative you plan to live out in this challenge. Do you plan to work as a graduate student, then post-doc, then finally assistant, then associate and finally full professor in the sciences? Do you want to go into a professional program such as medical school? I was talking to one of my friends recently and we were discussing how a physician can perform research without any restraints while a Ph.D. cannot perform clinical procedures.

I highly recommend meeting and observing many different people doing many different kinds of things and see which of them appeal to you and seem to be a good fit for your personality. You might be amazed at what you discover. There are even programs for high school students to participate in research.

I personally went to college as a pre-med student anticipating that I would change course at some point but knowing that it is usually fairly easy to switch from pre-med to something else while the reverse is not true. I do see molecular biology as being slightly more relevant to fighting aging than biochemistry although it will be involved as well.

#5 eternaltraveler

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Posted 04 May 2009 - 03:30 PM

No specific major. I had a business major in undergrad after all (which I am not recommending). What you do want is a strong background in the sciences with an emphasis in biology(biochemistry, molecular biology..). Just don't specialize too much in any sub discipline as aging is itself a very general problem.

Look in getting involved in one of these undergraduate research initiatives early on that sensf and more lately some other groups seem to be sponsoring as you won't get much exposure to anything directly focused on aging treatment otherwise and it will help you find your niche.

#6 Jenn

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Posted 06 May 2009 - 04:46 AM

Thank you for your suggestions. I find the activity of this site incredibly encouraging; living in a secluded religious area, I sometimes forget that I'm not the only one who doesn't want to die and that people who share my values actually exist.

I want to complete a five year double concentrate in one of the science fields and philosophy. The quest for immortality is the most beneficial, universally applicable moral philosophy, yet it is not widely discussed, while many popular philosophies could be refuted by simply pointing out that death is no longer inevitable. I think a concentration in philosophy will help me show as many people as possible that, now that we know death is not inevitable, we can stop pretending that death is in our best interest. Imagine the kind of funding and brain power life extension research would get if Immortalism turned into a major philosophical movement! I am sure the ideas have the potential to do so; they just have to be framed in a way that reaches people. Aubrey de Grey's approach worked for me wonderfully, but many pass him over unaffected and bored.

The message would be all the more strengthened if the philosopher claiming death is not inevitable is an expert in molecular biology. I was planning to go the full professorship route, lunarsolarpower, but can a physician do as much research as a professor?

#7 Cyberbrain

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Posted 06 May 2009 - 05:10 AM

Thank you for your suggestions. I find the activity of this site incredibly encouraging; living in a secluded religious area, I sometimes forget that I'm not the only one who doesn't want to die and that people who share my values actually exist.

Indeed, most members here come from very conservative religious areas as well. It is always comforting to know there are other like minded people out there :)

Imagine the kind of funding and brain power life extension research would get if Immortalism turned into a major philosophical movement!

You might want to also look into Transhumanism. It's the overall underlining philosophy behind the life extension movement :~

Also this is one book you definitly have to read: http://www.amazon.co...g/dp/1591022908

I was planning to go the full professorship route, lunarsolarpower, but can a physician do as much research as a professor?

A physician probably not, but first concentrate on starting your bachelor first :p

You may also want to look into this: http://www.sens.org/...me=aiu_research

It's the leading undergraduate research in life extension.

#8 niner

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Posted 07 May 2009 - 05:00 AM

... but can a physician do as much research as a professor?

There are MD/PhD programs if you want to do both, but it's a rare individual that can pull off both a real research career and a clinical career at the same time. The practice of medicine is very involving and time consuming, and the present economic realities don't make it any easier. While a physician could do research, as in there's no law against it, it doesn't happen much in the real world.

#9 lunarsolarpower

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Posted 07 May 2009 - 05:56 AM

... but can a physician do as much research as a professor?

There are MD/PhD programs if you want to do both, but it's a rare individual that can pull off both a real research career and a clinical career at the same time. The practice of medicine is very involving and time consuming, and the present economic realities don't make it any easier. While a physician could do research, as in there's no law against it, it doesn't happen much in the real world.


I agree it is the rare person who pulls off the combined MD/PhD lifestyle. I believe at my institution out of 150 who entered the combined track only about 70 finished both degrees rather than opting for a MD/MS or simply only doing the medical school side of things. Of those 70 only 2-4 were still writing grants and publishing research after graduating/finishing their residencies. That said, the director of the research center where I did my undergraduate research was just an MD. He eventually left and went to another institution to have more of his time free to focus on research (his passion) with less required clinical time. There is nothing a PhD does that a physician is not allowed to do. The reverse is not true. In my experience most life science PhDs I have personally known were unable to gain entrance to medical school. I haven't known as many MD/PhDs but each one of them has been quite an individual. One guy has gone totally commercial and runs an aesthetic medicine center. A couple of the other ones are still in residency so who knows what they'll end up doing. I looked into the program and it appeared that it never really pays off. Even when you consider the 6 years of expenses (out of 8-11) that the government covers.

I personally think the government's money would be better spent providing scholarships for PhDs to go to medical school.

Also it's important to remember that research is only one large piece of the puzzle that must be solved. The research must be funded. The technologies must be commercialized. Regulations and legislation have to be put into place to ensure proper access is available to the therapies. Hearts and minds need to be won. This is an enormous undertaking and there will be a plethora of opportunities to take part in it.

I really think immortalism resounds more strongly with those who come from conservative religious backgrounds. It so deliciously combines the threads of hope, truth and life everlasting without offending the sensibilities of Occam's razor. Well, at least not very much :)

Edited by lunarsolarpower, 07 May 2009 - 05:57 AM.


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#10 harris13.3

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Posted 14 December 2009 - 07:37 AM

Interesting poll. I voted for biochemistry.

I'm not old enough to go to college/university yet but once I get there, I'm thinking of taking a major in biochemistry with perhaps a minor in something like neuroscience. But I might consider an MD if you can do the same stuff a researcher can (I'm guessing that they probably can't). If I were to start some sort of biomedical venture, then I guess some sort of business-related degree would also be helpful but that's more far off into the future.

Of course, I know that being a researcher is often a difficult job and the pay isn't that nice but most people here would agree that it's a worthwhile endeavor.

Anyway, why aren't there many universities that offer biogenrontology and biomedical gerontology as science majors? Those would be perfect for life extension - and hence a perfect answer for the poll. The overlap between biochemistry/biomedical engineering and biogerontology/biomedical gerontology is huge but they're also the most specific in regards to life extension. We've got specific majors for the study of cancer, after all.

Edited by Condraz23, 14 December 2009 - 07:43 AM.





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