Interview with Ben Best, director of research oversight, Life Extension Foundation (LEF). In part one, he discusses the following subject-matter: Ben Best in a Nutshell, general letters of personal description from Gael and Shannon, and the struggle in remaining honest; BSc (1970-1974) in pharmacy from The University of British Columbia (UBC), BSc (1977-1987) in computer science and physics from Simon Fraser University (SFU), BBA (1977-1987) in accounting from SFU, and earning the greatest number of credit hours ever accumulated by an SFU student; reasons for interest in those disciplines; positions held prior to involvement with the Life Extension Foundation (LEF); positions of president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Cryonics Institute (CI), and feasibility of cryonics; Dr. Aubrey de Grey’s subdivision of aging into seven separate categorizations; an old daily regimen for health and wellbeing including supplements; and the five best supplements for the extension of life.
Keywords: aging, Ben Best, cryonics, Cryonics Institute, Dr. Aubrey de Grey, health, honest, Life Extension Foundation, Simon Fraser University, supplements, and The University of British Columbia.
American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Best, B. & Jacobsen, S.D. (2015, May 1). Best Best: Director of Research Oversight, Life Extension Foundation (Part One). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, 8.A. Retrieved from http://in-sightjournal.com/2015/05/01/1893/.
Chicago/Turabian (16th Edition): Best, Ben & Jacobsen, Scott “Best Best: Director of Research Oversight, Life Extension Foundation (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 8.A (2015). http://in-sightjournal.com/2015/05/01/1893/.
Harvard: Best, B. & Jacobsen, S 2015, ‘Best Best: Director of Research Oversight, Life Extension Foundation (Part One)’, In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 8.A. Available from: <http://in-sightjournal.com/2015/05/01/1893/>.
Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Best, Ben, and Scott D. Jacobsen. “Best Best: Director of Research Oversight, Life Extension Foundation (Part One).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 8.A (2015): May. 2015. Web. <http://in-sightjournal.com/2015/05/01/1893/>.
1. Based on the frankness expressed within your works, I leave those with the desire to understand you better to the article Ben Best in a Nutshell for some preliminary background for this interview. In addition to this, I direct attention to supplementary articles – more general letters – by “Gael” and “Shannon”.
Gael says, “Honesty is his number one value. The expression ‘honest to a fault’ might apply here. It sometimes feels like he is rubbing his honesty in your face to get some kind of reaction.”
Shannon says, “Ben is scientific and like a monk in how he sequesters himself to work. He is devoted to topics that interest him, he will do what he says he will do and he usually attempts to be very honest.”
Any response to these commentaries past the preliminary comments online? Do they hinge tacitly on the article Diogenes of Sinope?
Gael’s comment that I am intentionally trying to rub something about honesty in her (or other people’s) face is an incorrect interpretation. I struggle to be honest, but it is a continual struggle. I have a hard time relating well with people who intentionally lie, or who lie without scruple or even without consciousness that they are doing so because the process is so automatic. I certainly can’t say that I have never lied or never intend to lie, but I try to be very conscious and concerned about the matter. The argument is correctly made that lying to Nazis about Jews in your attic is justified because saving lives is a higher moral objective than not lying. Sometimes I do feel that it is necessary to lie to survive, and when confronted with situations where the truth could be terribly hurtful to another person, I have chosen silence. My Diogenes of Sinope and “Some Philosophizing about Lying” articles were inspired by my interest in this topic. It is never a closed subject, and with time I will try to explore the topic more and clarify my understanding of the issues.
2. You earned a BSc (1970-1974) in pharmacy from The University of British Columbia (UBC), BSc (1977-1987) in computer science and physics from Simon Fraser University (SFU), and BBA (1977-1987) in accounting from SFU. Of particular note, as you recount in Ben Best in a Nutshell, you write, “I took two degrees, one in Physics & Computing Science and another in business (concentrations in Accounting & Finance) ending with the largest number of credit hours ever accumulated by a student in the history of SFU.” [Emphasis added] Why accumulate such a large number of credits towards accreditation beyond the first degree at UBC? How have these disciplines and degrees assisted in the intellectual activities pursued in your own life?
I certainly wasn’t attempting to accumulate a record number of credits. I enjoy learning greatly, and I particularly am interested in learning about subjects that can objectively improve my thinking or understanding of the world. I have also always been very concerned about my health, which motivated me to get a degree in Pharmacy. Unlike many people, I have not been interested in health because of health problems. The pharmacy degree also gave me a health profession where I could work evenings and weekends while being a full-time student. I was able to use my computing and finance degrees in my profession as a Senior Programmer Analyst at Scotiabank where I supported the largest bond database system in Canada. As President of the Cryonics Institute, my accounting background helped me greatly improve the accounting systems there. And the physics, computing, and pharmacy training gave me great understanding of research that I pursued to improve cryonics procedures. I have been treasurer of a few organizations on a volunteer basis, namely MENSA, the New Westminster housing co-op and the SFU sailing club, where I applied my accounting skills for the benefit of these organizations.
3. What provided the interest in these particular disciplines for you?
I have mostly answered this in question 2, but I will add that I am an avid learner. Most of what I know about biology is self-taught or, at least, learned independent of what I learned in the process of getting my pharmacy degree. My current occupation has me going to scientific conferences related to health and longevity, and learning from the top scientists in these fields and writing about them. My love of learning is closely related to my love of life and my desire to live thousands of years. While I am currently immersed in biological topics related to aging, I hunger for more education in math, physics, chemistry and computing. This motivation is purely psychological and personal. But I love my job and I can’t expect to be doing everything at once.
4. Following these accomplishments, and prior to involvement with the Life Extension Foundation (LEF), you held numerous roles at varied organizations. What organizations? Why choose work within these organizations? What motivated the transition from these organizations to the LEF two and a half years ago, i.e. into the position of director of research oversight? How do you find the position up to the present?
I have mostly answered this in question 3. Aside from the volunteer work, I have not worked for many organizations on an extended full-time basis. Before LEF I was at the Cryonics Institute for 9 years and before that I was at Scotiabank for 15 years. Before that I did not work full-time at anything. I worked part-time or temporarily as a pharmacist, truck driver, taxi driver, computer instructor, computer operator, and lots of odd jobs. I left the Cryonics Institute because I had become ineffectual and I had become the whipping-boy of too many people, which caused me more suffering than I wanted to endure. I have move to a job that I love at LEF. In my early days at CI I had been very effective in making dramatic changes, which I found to be very satisfying, but that situation changed more and more the longer I stayed at CI.
5. In a previous line of work, you held the high-ranking positions of President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Cryonics Institute (CI). Those with deep interest can ascertain deep information in the article Cryonics – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). Where does cryonics stand now – as a practice? What do you consider the strongest argument against the possibility – even feasibility – of the ultimate goals of cryonics?
Cryopreservation still involves many forms of damage, notably cracking damage and cryoprotectant toxicity (and too often freezing or ischemic damage due to poor planning or unfavorable circumstances, despite the fact that vitrification is intended to eliminate this). Possibly future medicine will be able to repair this damage, but possibly not. Possibly we will develop technologies to prevent this damage, but possibly not.
6. Aubrey de Grey, defines the colloquial term “aging” through subdivision into seven processes: 1) cell loss and cell atrophy, 2) division-obsessed cells, 3) mitochondrial mutations, 4) death-resistant cells, 5) extracellular crosslinks, 6) extracellular aggregates, and 7) intracellular aggregates. Does this figure into the LEF research program at all? If so, how much?
Aubrey de Grey has become an LEF advisor since I introduced him to Bill Faloon a couple of years ago. LEF has provided funding for a couple of projects at Aubrey’s SENS Foundation, but that is only a tiny part of LEF research funding. Much of LEF research funding is cryonics-related, which is handled by Saul Kent, not by me. I mostly handle the research funding specifically designed for anti-aging effects, although there is a small amount of overlap. Most of the anti-aging research funding that I have inspired lies outside of Aubrey’s SENS paradigm. One project in particular is contrary to Aubrey’s claim that nuclear DNA damage does not contribute to aging. With LEF funding, Victoria Belancio at Tulane University has shown that retrotransposon nuclear DNA damage increases with age (probably contributing to both aging and cancer). I am most proud of helping to fund the world’s second largest naked mole rat facility, where the fact that naked mole rats are virtually immune from cancer (and show no signs of aging) has been explained – causing the naked mole rat to be named “Vertebrate of the Year” for 2013 by SCIENCE magazine.
7. Based on the personal experimentation catalogued within your website, I would like to make this concrete to provide a sense of the depth of research. For instance, your morning supplement regimen described in My Health Regimen – Exercise, Diet, Supplements consists of the following supplements:
- Life Extension Mix4 capsules
- CoEnzyme Q10capsule 100 mg,,
- N-AcetylCysteine(NAC) capsule 600 mg,
- Vitamin E(alpha-tocopherol) capsule 400 mg,
- Vitamin E (gamma-tocopherol) capsule 340 mg,
- Vitamin C time-release tablet 1000 mg
- Carnosinecapsule 500 mg,
- Max DHA capsule (50%DocasaHexaenoeic Acid, 250 mg),,
- Kelp 1000 mg
- Acetyl-L-Carnitinecapsule 500 mg,
- TMG(TriMethylGlycine = Betaine) tablet 500 mg
- DHEA capsule 30 mg (if available),
- DMAEGinkgo capsule (if available)
- Pure Gar capsule (Garlic 1600 mg, EDTA 200 mg)
- Cal Mag tablet (Calcium 300 mg, Magnesium 300 mg)
The description of my diet and supplements on the webpage you cited is badly outdated, although my exercise regimen has not changed much, except for the addition of 30 push-ups. To compensate for my ever-changing supplement regimen I have added Section I “Update” which contains an EXCEL file of my latest supplements
although even this does not include changes made within the last couple of weeks, with includes addition of MitoQ and Product B (better than TA-65 for telomere lengthening) and deletion of ribose (which is more glycating even that fructose). I am now taking LEF’s vegetarian sourced DHA and have not taken garlic for many years.
My diet is still undergoing radical changes. For the last several months I have been working on getting on a lacto-ovo vegetarian low-protein ketogenic diet, which I am monitoring with urine and blood test kits. This continues to undergo changes almost on a weekly basis. I have also been attempting intermittent fasting – I had my first 4-day fast a few weeks ago.
8. Within this subset of the supplement and comprehensive regimen described in the article and elsewhere by you, of these fifteen items, what five supplements appear to provide the most return on investment (ROI) for specific and overall health?
The omega-3 fatty acid DHA rates pretty high on the list, but should be combined with anti-oxidants insofar as PUFAs are vulnerable to oxidation, so gamma tocopherol and N-acetylcysteine are important. Also, exercise increases free radicals, although there is some argument that anti-oxidants reduce at least some of the benefits of exercise. Since becoming an LEF employee, I get my supplements at employee prices, so I mostly use LEF products these days. Exceptions to that would include Product B and Mito Q. Most free radical occurs within the mitochondria. LEF’s Mitochondrial Energy Optimizer attempts to address this problem (especially with the combination of Acetyl-L-Carnitine and Lipoic acid), but MitoQ is a newer product which gets into the mitochondria and is not an LEF product. I also take forms of Coenzyme Q10 intended to get into the mitochondria. Vitamin D3 also rates pretty highly, having many health benefits besides prevention of rickets. I understand some high-powered Vitamin D clinical trials are currently in progress.
 See Best, B. (n.d.). Ben Best in a Nutshell.
 See Gael (n.d.) Ben Best in Another Nutshell.
 See Vyff/Trice, S. (n.d.) Ben Best as I Have Known Him.
 See Gael (n.d.) Ben Best in Another Nutshell.
 See Vyff/Trice, S. (n.d.) Ben Best as I Have Known Him.
 See Best, B. (n.d.). Diogenes of Sinope.
 See Best, B. (n.d.). Ben Best in a Nutshell.
 See Life Extension Foundation (2014). Life Extension Foundation.
 See Best, B. (n.d.). Cryonics – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).
 Dr. Aubrey de Grey: SENS Research Foundation, Chief Science Officer and Co-founder; Rejuvenation Research, Editor-in-Chief.
 See de Grey, A. & Jacobsen, S.D. (2014, June 8). Dr. Aubrey de Grey: SENS Research Foundation, Chief Science Officer and Co-founder; Rejuvenation Research, Editor-in-Chief.
 See Best, B. (n.d.). Welcome to the World of Ben Best.
 See Best, B. (n.d.). My Health Regimen – Exercise, Diet, Supplements.
 Duly note, all footnotes with direction to supplement webpage on the LEF website do not necessarily match the precise formulation provided by Mr. Best in the morning regimen listing.
 See Life Extension Foundation (2014). Life Extension Mix™ Capsules.
 See Buchanan, L. (2013, January). CoQ10: The Longevity Factor.
 See Life Extension Foundation (2014). Super Ubiquinol CoQ10 with Enhanced Mitochondrial Support™.
 See Best, B. (n.d.). CoEnzyme Q10 (Ubiquinone, Ubiquinol and Semiquinone).
 See Life Extension Foundation (2014). N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine.
 See Best, B. (n.d.). N-AcetylCysteine (NAC).
 See Life Extension Foundation (2014). Natural Vitamin E.
 See Best, B. (n.d.). Vitamin E (Tocopherols and Tocotrienols).
 See Stokel, K. (2011, January). Report: Critical Importance of Gamma E Tocopherol Continues to Be Overlooked.
 See Goepp, J. (2008, April). Report: Newly Discovered Health Benefits of Vitamin C.
 See Stokel, K. (2011, January). Carnosine, Exceeding Scientific Expectations.
 See Best, B. (n.d.). L-Carnosine and Related Histamine-Derived Molecules.
 See Blaylock, R.L. (2008, January). Report: DHA Supports Brain Development and Protects Neurological Function.
 See Best, B. (n.d.). DHA for Hearts and Minds.
 See Best, B. (n.d.). Fats You Need — Essential Fatty Acids.
 See Life Extension Foundation (2009, October). Abstracts: Iodine.
 See Life Extension Foundation (2014). Acetyl-L-Carnitine.
 See Best, B. (n.d.). Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR).
 See Life Extension Foundation (2014). TMG.
 See Life Extension Foundation (2014). DHEA Complete.
 See Best, B. (n.d.) DHEA Hormone Replacement.
 See Life Extension Foundation (2014). DMAE: Dimethylaminoethanol.
 See Life Extension Foundation (2005, October 18). Life Extension Update.
 See Life Extension Foundation (2014). CAL / MAG.
 See Best, B. (n.d.). Nutraceuticals Topic Index.
Rick G. Rosner: Collected Journal Writings (1991-2014) [Academic] available in the “Ebooks” section on May 2, 2015. Rick Rosner’s birthday.
(May 2, 2015, 1st edition; PDF, 298 pages; 131,592 words)
An Introduction to Informational Cosmology [Academic]available in the “Ebooks” section.
(May 1, 2015, 1st edition; PDF, 131 pages; 44,683 words)
Issue 8.A, Idea: Outliers and Outsiders (Part Four) follows Issue 7.A, Idea: Outliers and Outsiders (Part Three). 7.A, Idea: Outliers and Outsiders (Part Three) published today. Issue 8.A, Idea: Outliers and Outsiders (Part Four) continues the series with its first publication today.
Issue 7.A, Idea: Outliers and Outsiders (Part Three) available in the “Journal Issues” section.
(May 1, 2015; PDF, 55 pages; 23,168 words)
An Introduction to Informational Cosmology published May 1, 2015, at 12:00 PST (US & Canada).
Rick G. Rosner: Collected Journal Writings (1991-2014) available in the “Ebooks” section on May 2, 2015.
P.S. [Correction to publication date of An Introduction to Informational Cosmology to May 1, 2015.]