H.E. Justin Sun, ambassador and permanent representative of Grenada to the World Trade Organization, is best known as the innovative founder of the TRON blockchain, which has grown to become the world’s largest decentralized autonomous organization. While Sun remains actively involved in the crypto and blockchain industry, he’s demonstrated wide-ranging interest in other areas such as art collecting, space exploration, and now, longevity science.
In October, Justin Sun announced a donation of $51,000 to the Longevity Prize, a collective dedicated to improving the human experience by awarding outstanding progress in longevity research. The contribution was the second-largest ever received by the initiative.
“I am proud to support the Longevity Prize and what it stands for, because I believe this initiative will definitely bring together the brightest minds to hack the aging code. I look forward to seeing more discoveries on longevity,” said Sun in an announcement of the donation.
Blockchain community support of longevity
In donating to the Longevity Prize, Sun joins several other high-profile crypto and blockchain entrepreneurs who have contributed to the project, including Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin and Gnosis co-founder Stefan George.
Justin Sun’s donation isn’t his first foray into supporting longevity science. In 2021, Buterin tweeted a suggestion that someone should donate the value of the rare non-fungible token Ether Rocks to support longevity research, noting that research in senescent cell removal techniques was making promising progress.
“Why can’t we have $3.4m ether rocks funding life extension?” asked Buterin in his tweet.
Sun responded that he would donate his Ether Rocks to the cause, tweeting, “I am happy to donate my $3.4 million ether rocks funding life extension per @VitaliKButerin’s advice. Seriously.”
In addition to Sun and Buterin, crypto entrepreneurs such as Coinbase co-founder Brian Armstrong and Hex founder Richard Heart have pledged millions in donations to support longevity science. Armstrong donated 2% of his Coinbase stock, and Hex donated the funds raised from the launch of the pulse token (roughly $27 million) to the SENS Research Foundation for longevity research.
These blockchain tech leaders join other tech entrepreneurs such as PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, and Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison in supporting longevity research.
Justin Sun on innovative research funding
Justin Sun explained in a recent interview that his intrigue in longevity science began as an undergraduate at Peking University in China. In recent years, he’s been particularly interested in the intersection of advances in science and the innovation of blockchain-based funding to support further research. As an example, Sun mentioned VitaDAO, a community-based blockchain project that collectively funds and digitizes research in the form of IP-NFTs, non-fungible tokens that provide a unique digital representation of intellectual property, such as patents and licenses to therapeutic research projects.
“I like the idea that VitaDAO is focused on community-owned, collective funding, early-stage longevity research. It feels more engaging than traditional research funding,” said Sun. “I personally feel that life is the most precious thing in this universe and that extending the average life span will change the world beyond our imagination. I hope there will be some sort of a major breakthrough in longevity research that would truly enable humans to live longer. Perhaps, 20 to 30 years more than the current average life span would be achievable.”
Sun pointed to research demonstrating longevity in animals as a sign of the potential for human beings to extend their life spans, and he noted that there are already tangible use cases on the horizon.
“There is some research on creating miniature MRI machines that could allow much easier access for patients to get MRIs. Companies like Promaxo and Hyperfine are working to bring this to the mass market. This would be a near-term solution to greatly improve medical access and help humans to live longer and healthier.”
He also sees important connections between the mindset that drives innovation in the blockchain space and longevity research. He stressed that while investing will help grow both spaces, drawing attention to the power of the technology is paramount.
“Creating awareness is just as important as investing,” said Sun.