Director of Undergraduate Affairs, Methuselah Foundation
What is MFURI?
The Methuselah Foundation Undergraduate Research Initiative (MFURI) is a student-focused research and development program created by the Methuselah Foundation. Since its establishment this past summer, the program has expanded to include a small staff and a multitude of student research projects.
What the students are saying
Johan Sjöberg is an undergraduate student studying in Sweden who is currently enrolled in MFURI. “I think working with MFURI is a great way for aspiring biogerontologists and aging researchers to… [prepare] for the future. Through MFURI, I hope to get involved in SENS and aging research, which will be of great importance to me during my future career as a scientist.” He further adds, “When I started working on my project, I was assigned a personal MFURI mentor who supervises my work and provides help when needed. It's great to have someone within the organization itself to ask if there's anything I need help with.” Johan’s project focuses on glucosepane, the most significant AGE in the human body.
In the pipeline
In an effort to support the development of regional MF chapters, MFURI has placed special emphasis in the coming months on its Administration Program, which trains and supports student coordinators as they begin grassroots clubs and chapters on university campuses worldwide. This program will allow all student organizations that support the MF/MFURI to be brought together, and foster collaboration between regional directors and student groups within their respective areas.
There has also been considerable success working with existing clubs at various universities. Austin Community College’s Biology Club, headed by student Chris Norwood, is tackling the preliminary research for a project on PEPCK. His team hopes to identify the feasibility and potential benefits of using PEPCK up-regulation for eventual human life extension.
The MFURI science program’s first lab project remains on schedule. Sophie Lukowski is one of the team’s two student researchers, and is majoring in psychology and biochemistry. “I am very excited. We had some initial difficulties with getting approval from the college, but we worked through it and we plan to begin our preliminary research this coming spring, with lab work to begin shortly thereafter.” The team will investigate how tau protein tangles accumulate in Alzheimer’s disease, and seek ways to boost the effectiveness of the lysosome in degrading these tangles.
The administration and science programs are not the only ones undergoing rapid expansion and growing interest. The MFURI social program is presently investigating the social/psychological causes of the “pro-aging trance”. Diego Caleiro, an undergraduate from the university of São Paulo, Brazil, is developing a survey to collect demographic information cross-culturally to better understand the pro-aging trance. His project will identify correlations between factors such as religiousness, education, and socioeconomic status, and the prevalence of the pro-aging trance. There are four additional psychology students pending acceptance into the program, who will be assisting with this and similar projects beginning in the spring.
I would like to thank all volunteers on the MFURI staff who are making this program a possibility, and all the students whose efforts and performance have already surpassed my expectations. We would also like to thank the Immortality Institute, which has generously matched the Methuselah Foundation’s scholarship fund for the program. We are very excited to see the results of the pilot studies that are testing the program, and are very confident in the quality of work that our students will demonstrate.
We are now making the necessary preparations to shift MFURI mainstream as it moves out of its pilot phase. To accommodate the growth we anticipate, we are seeking volunteers to further staff our five academic programs, and assist our students with project research and development. Anyone with a four-year degree and an interest in promoting the Methuselah Foundation or participating in relevant research should consider volunteering as staff for this program. Further information can be obtained at www.mfuri.org/volunteer.htm.