Letter from Saul Kent, Life Extension Foundation to Marshall W. Nirenberg
Kent, president of the Life Extension Foundation (a non-profit organization that provides financial assistance to scientists
striving to extend the human life span), asks for Nirenberg's assistance in supporting cryonic suspension (freezing of
the human body after legal death for the purpose of reanimation). A lengthy discussion of the scientific, social, and ethical
implications of cryonic suspension is included. Kent asks Nirenberg to send him a letter of support in hope of fighting a
ruling by the State of California Health Department making it illegal.
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1988-09-12 (September 12, 1988)
Life Extension Foundation
Nirenberg, Marshall W.
Courtesy of Marshall W. Nirenberg.
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Beyond the Laboratory: Professional, Personal, and Political Life, 1967-2002
My name is Saul Kent. I am President of the Life Extension Foundation -- a non-profit organization that provides financial
assistance to scientists striving to extend the human lifespan.
I'd very much appreciate your assistance in helping to preserve the constitutionally-guaranteed right of all Americans
to take advantage of advances in science and technology.
This right is now being threatened by an arbitrary and unlawful ruling by the State of California Heath Department that the
practice of cryonic suspension is "illegal".
Cryonic suspension is the freezing of the human body after legal death for the purpose of future reanimation. Cryonic suspension
is based upon the fact that storage of the human body at the temperature of liquid nitrogen (-196 deg. C.) preserves biologic
systems indefinitely; and the premise that, at some future time, advanced medical technologies may be able to repair damage
caused by injury, disease, and aging that is clearly irreparable today.
Cryonic suspension is controversial because its value lies in the prospect of future medical advances, rather than in the
capabilities of today's medicine. As a result, many scientists have questioned its value. On the other hand, there are
a significant number of established scientists who clearly recognize the value of this pioneering new technology, including:
James B. Lewis, Ph.D, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA; Peter Gouras, M.D., Columbia University Medical
Center, New York; K. Eric Drexler & Ralph C. Merkle, Ph.D, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA; Gerald Feinberg, Ph.D,
Columbia University, New York; Gregory M. Fahy, Ph.D, American Red Cross, Rockville, MD; Daniel Alkon, Ph.D., National Institute
Of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD: Paul Segall, Ph.D, Hal Sternberg, Ph.D & Harry Waitz, Ph.D, University of California at
Berkeley, CA; and Hans Moravec, Ph.D, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA.
I invite you to read the enclosed Question-And-Answer discussion of the scientific, social, and ethical implications of cryonic
The actions of the California Health Department have been challenged by the Alcor Life Extension Foundation of Riverside,
California -- a non-profit organization that provides the service of cryonic suspension to its members. An Alcor member afflicted
with AIDS has joined Alcor in a lawsuit to obtain a Court Order prohibiting the Health Department from interfering with his
(and anyone else's) cryonic suspension. (See enclosed press release and newspaper story)
I'd greatly appreciate it if you sent a letter addressed to our attorney indicating that, in your opinion, cryonic suspension
is a "rational gamble" (or words to that effect) that is of value to the individual who chooses it, and that any individual
who wishes to be frozen after legal death has the right to do so. This letter will then be the basis for a legal declaration
submitted to the court on behalf of the AIDS patient, the members of Alcor, and the American people.
Please send your letter and a copy of your Curriculum Vitae (CV) to: David B. Epstein, Attorney, Garfield, Tepper & Ashworth,
1925 Century Park East, Suite 1250, Los Angeles, California 90067, Telephone: 213/277-1981.
If you have any legal questions, please call David Epstein. If you have any other questions, please call Saul Kent at: 714/780-3252.