Open to Debate Debates “Lifespans Are Long Enough” at NYC’s Kaufman Center and Online, February 3

January 14, 2016
Open to Debate Press Release

The average American can expect to live for 78.8 years, the longest lifespan in human history but still not long enough for most of us. So researchers around the world have been working on arresting the process of aging through biotechnology and finding cures to diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer. What are the ethical and social consequences of radically increasing lifespans? Should we accept a “natural” end, or should we find a cure to aging? On Wednesday, February 3, the “always intelligent and provocative” (Wall Street Journal) Open to Debate continues their tenth anniversary year with a live debate on the motion “Lifespans Are Long Enough.”

Debaters include Aubrey de Grey, whose TED Talks on radically extending lifespans have been viewed by millions, and Brian Kennedy, who runs the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, arguing against the motion. Arguing for the motion are Paul Root Wolpe, considered one of the founders of the field of neuroethics, and Dr. Ian Ground.

The debate will be held at New York’s Kaufman Center and stream live online, then air soon after as part of the syndicated public radio show and podcast “Open to Debate” On February 3, online viewers can tune in here ( or via Open to Debate’s app (

WHAT: Open to Debate Debates “Lifespans Are Long Enough”

WHEN: Wed, February 3, 2015 / Reception 5:45-6:30 / Debate 6:45-8:15 PM

WHERE: Kaufman Center/129 W. 67th Street (bet. Broadway and Amsterdam)/New York, NY 10023

TICKETS: $40 ($12 for students w/ ID). To purchase, visit

Arguing for the motion:

* Paul Root Wolpe: Director, Emory Center for Ethics

Paul Root Wolpe, PhD, is the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Bioethics, the Raymond F. Schinazi Distinguished Research Chair in Jewish Bioethics, a professor in the departments of medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, and sociology, and the director of the Center for Ethics at Emory University. He also serves as the first senior bioethicist for NASA. A futurist interested in social dynamics, Wolpe’s work focuses on the impact of technology on the human condition. He is considered one of the founders of the field of neuroethics, and his teaching and publications range across multiple fields of bioethics and sociology, including death and dying. The co-editor of the American Journal of Bioethics (AJOB), Wolpe sits on the editorial boards of over a dozen journals on medicine and ethics. Previously at UPenn for 20 years, he has served as president of the American Society for Bioethics and Humanities and is a fellow of the Hastings Center.

*Ian Ground: Philosopher & Lecturer, University of Newcastle

Ian Ground, PhD, has taught philosophy in a range of roles, including senior lecturer in philosophy, at the universities of Newcastle, Sunderland, Durham and Edinburgh. A specialist in making philosophical ideas accessible to the wider public, and in enabling people to think critically about current ideas and trends, he has been an innovator in the sectors of adult education and lifelong learning. Ground has won awards for Teaching Innovation and the UK’s National Award in Lifelong Learning. He has published in the philosophy of mind, especially our understanding of animal minds, in the philosophy of art, and on the thought and life of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. His books include Art or Bunk?, Can We Understand Animal Minds?, and Portraits of Wittgenstein, a comprehensive collection of memoirs. He is currently a member of the executive committee of the British Wittgenstein Society and teaches in the Department of Fine Art at Newcastle University.

Arguing against the motion:

* Aubrey de Grey: Chief Science Officer & Co-Founder, SENS

Aubrey de Grey, PhD, a biomedical gerontologist, is the chief science officer of SENS Research Foundation, a charity dedicated to combating the aging process. He is editor-in-chief of Rejuvenation Research, the world’s highest-impact peer-reviewed journal focused on intervention in aging. His research interests encompass the characterization of all the accumulating and eventually pathogenic side-effects of metabolism (“damage”) that constitute mammalian aging and the design of interventions to repair and/or obviate that damage. He has developed a possibly comprehensive plan, termed Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS), which breaks aging down into seven major classes of damage and identifies detailed approaches to addressing each one. A key aspect of SENS is that it can potentially extend healthy lifespan without limit. de Grey, a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America and the American Aging Association, sits on the editorial and scientific advisory boards of numerous journals and organizations.

* Brian Kennedy: CEO & President, Buck Institute for Research on Aging

Brian K. Kennedy, PhD, is the CEO and president of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging. His innovative work in the biology of aging began as a doctoral student at MIT, where he took part in groundbreaking studies under the guidance of Leonard Guarente, PhD. Currently, he studies the pathways that modulate longevity in life forms ranging from yeast to mice, particularly the rapamycin (TOR) pathway. One of his lab’s goals is to determine whether such pathways can be regulated to treat the diseases of aging. Since 2006, he has served on the National Institutes of Health Cellular Mechanisms of Aging and Development study section and on the grant review committee for American Federation for Aging Research Grants. He has published more than 60 manuscripts in journals, including Cell, Nature, and Science, is an associate editor for the Journal of Gerontology, and consults for biotech and pharmaceutical companies.


A non-partisan, nonprofit organization, Open to Debate was founded in 2006 to restore civility, reasoned analysis and constructive public discourse to today’s often biased media landscape. Open to Debate reaches millions through multi-platform distribution, including radio, television, live streaming, podcasts and interactive digital content. It is one of the top 25 most popular podcasts on iTunes, and has won the 2014 Clarion Award for Radio Regular Feature Program and three consecutive 2013-2015 New York Festivals International Radio Awards for Best Public Affairs Program. The debates have attracted some of the world’s top thinkers, including Malcolm Gladwell, Paul Krugman, Laura Ingraham, Nicholas Carr, Arianna Huffington, Peter Thiel, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Andrew Solomon, and Hannah Rosin. With over 100 debates and counting, Open to Debate has encouraged the public to “think twice” on a wide range of provocative topics. Author and ABC News correspondent John Donvan has moderated Open to Debate since 2008. The executive producer is Dana Wolfe.

For more information on Open to Debate, please contact Ray Padgett ( or Mark Satlof ( at Shore Fire Media.