How to Get Rich and Never Die Trying

Meet the scientists and investors who want to make a killing by keeping you alive

Drew Millard
Published in
11 min readJul 25, 2018
Illustration by Sam Taylor

OnOn a recent weekday afternoon in a basement auditorium at New York University, Antonei Csoka, PhD, a professor of anatomy at Howard University, is standing at a podium, clicking through PowerPoint slides about how to live forever. Or at least how to achieve the first step toward eternal life, by killing life-ending diseases before they kill us. In the radical life-extension community, I learn, this concept actually has a name: “actuarial escape velocity.”

Before long, Csoka’s jargon-heavy remarks start running together. Admittedly, it’s hard for me to wrap my head around what he’s talking about, or its implications — I’m a journalist, not a transhumanist — but there’s a simple fact here that even my feeble human brain can understand: In the past few years, medical research has developed a host of potential ways to keep humans healthier for longer, allowing the species to stretch the human lifespan well beyond the 80 or so years people in the United States enjoy today. At some point, the people in the room agree, someone is going to bring one of these developments to market in the form of a treatment that stops or drastically slows aging. And by extending all of our lives, that someone is going to make a fucking killing.

That’s the focus of the event I’m attending, called Ending Age-Related Diseases: Investment Prospects and Advances in Research. Put on by an organization called the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation, it aims to provide privately held biotech companies the opportunity to present their anti-aging research to potential investors, and for investors to explain how a company can keep from going broke long enough to forestall death.

I feel like I’m listening in on a meeting of the Illuminati that for some reason is being held in a cave.

Here, CEOs will brag about their funding rounds and talk up their unique anti-aging protocols; one panel will be devoted to “venture philanthropy” — the idea that the best donations are those that might turn a profit—another is meant to help life-extension entrepreneurs…