Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto Saudi ruler, has allocated more than a billion dollars a year to an effort called Hevolution Foundation to develop new treatments for aging. That could dramatically expand the available global funding for research on longevity biology, which now comes mainly from the U.S. National Institute on Aging.
The prospect of a huge surge of funding into the area, whose budgets pale in comparison to research on diseases like cancer, is causing a stir among scientists who study aging.
“People in the field are kind of holding their breath to see how the money is going to be spent,” says Steven Austad, a researcher on aging at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and senior scientific director at the American Federation for Aging Research, or AFAR, a U.S. nonprofit that has received $7.76 million in funding from Hevolution.
The Saudi foundation’s chief executive, Dr. Mehmood Khan, says much of the initial grant money is likely to end up at universities and startups in the U.S., where scientists are trying to develop treatments that slow, prevent or even reverse the aging process for humans.
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