I am a longevity biologist, startup founder and philosopher based in Cambridge, and I’m standing as an independent MEP candidate in East of England Region.
The very fact that am standing in the UK not only tells you my stance on this ongoing, divisive process that shall not be named, but also how strongly I feel about an open UK remaining an integral, important part of an open Europe. The ongoing process might be making my family’s place in the UK feel unstable, but I’m going to be staying an EU citizen no matter what.
I’m in the position of having to look beyond this painful period and towards something bigger – something else that matters more in the long run; something that does not divide, but might unite us all; something that is not defined by social identities or group memberships; something that happens to practically all of us.
I am talking about the forced compromise of our life plans due to ill-health brought about by biological ageing, and the prospect of healthy longevity to help us flourish till the very end.
While politics has been monopolised and polarised, the UK has quietly seen the end of projected and expected life expectancy increases. Now we’re in the position where life expectancy has actually dropped, the bulk of the decline amongst older adults, aged 65+. Not only are these people dying earlier but they live a more compromised life due to ill-health.
As many of us will have realised by now, the simple process of biological ageing is responsible for majority of chronic diseases and deaths.Currently, most people spend the last decades of life battling multiple chronic conditions. Time is not working for us and current political times are working against us. But there’s an upside.
We can fix the aforementioned issues and prioritise health and healthy longevity as top political goals. Why is this possible? Scientific breakthroughs have arrived in the last decades in terms of understanding the major molecular and cellular processes behind biological ageing.
Treatments and interventions are currently under development to counteract these separate processes, one by one, or even better, combined to act on multiple processes at the same time.
What this means is that we should be on our way to increase our healthy lifespan to minimise age-associated functional decline and to harness the longevity dividend.
We are talking about extra healthy decades of life. But we are not acting fast enough. The science and technology trajectory is there, but the politics is missing. In order to accelerate biomedicine, this innovation should be enabled further by political innovation.
The main question: What can we do in the European Union to advance healthy longevity for all?
First, as one of my policy proposals outlines, we can provide €30bn, yearly, out of the EU budget, to develop effective medicines against age-associated diseases. This would cover setting up new institutions, new projects, additional academic education. Resources would be channeled into biomedical research.
Second, we should set up a coordinated European institute for healthy longevity research. Third, we should bring about transparent, dynamic, enabling regulation.
And lastly, we should make longevity education accessible for everybody.
There are not many pan-European, truly global issues, but this is one of them. Global warming, tackling climate change is another prime global issue, but it is already covered by mainstream political agenda and parties with a good reason.
The “melting” of our bodies on the inside due to biological ageing and what can we do to counteract it is not prioritised by mainstream political actors. There’s already a cross-European alliance forming around healthy longevity. The science and technology trajectory is there, but the politics is missing.
Currently everybody is a loser in terms of what’s possible concerning healthy longevity. Rich and poor, old, middle aged and young.
As a philosopher, I’d like to ask you to do a thought experiment just like I have done, and assess yourself: wouldn’t living longer and healthier lives lead to a more democratic, equal, liberal, diverse, eco-friendly and peaceful world?
The health of the planet and the economy should be backed up by robust individual health.
If you vote for me, I will try to enable biomedicine to provide more healthy life to flourish for current, and, even more so, for future generations.