A conference this month will address one of the biggest scientific mysteries - how to extend human life.

Academics from across the world will meet at the University of Cambridge to discuss research that many scientists believe could extend the average human lifespan to 130 years or more within the next few decades.

The International Association of Biomedical Gerontology (IABG) 10th Congress at Queens' College will be held on 19-23 September 2003. The purpose of the IABG is two-fold: to make the public more aware of the potential of biomedical ageing research to increase the span of healthy productive life and to decrease the social and economic problems of age; and to promote greater communication among the worldwide community of individuals engaged in biomedical ageing research.

The conference will include a competition for scientific teams to develop a way to make laboratory mice live longer. Organiser Dr Aubrey de Grey of the Genetics department named the competition the ‘Methuselah Mouse’ contest after the biblical character who lived for 969 years.

The prize is potentially worth millions of pounds and is attracting strong interest from academics. Research funding will be awarded periodically to contestants that are able to extend the life of mice beyond what has been achieved. The initial target is to extend the life of mice to 5 years, but eventually scientists hope to stretch it to 9 years, the equivalent of 400 human years.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence. If you use this content on your site please link back to this page.