Alcor Scientific Advisory Board

Gregory Benford, PhD
Professor of Physics

Gregory Benford is a professor of physics at the University of California, Irvine, where he has been a faculty member since 1971. Benford conducts research in plasma turbulence theory and experiment, and in astrophysics. He has published well over a hundred papers in fields of physics from condensed matter, particle physics, plasmas and mathematical physics, and several in biological conservation.

He is a Woodrow Wilson Fellow and a Visiting Fellow at Cambridge University, and has served as an advisor to the Department of Energy, NASA and the White House Council on Space Policy. In 1995 he received the Lord Foundation Award for contributions to science and the public comprehension of it.

Benford is the author of over twenty novels, including Jupiter ProjectArtifactAgainst InfinityEater, and Timescape. A two-time winner of the Nebula Award, Benford has also won the John W. Campbell Award, the Australian Ditmar Award, the 1995 Lord Foundation Award for achievement in the sciences, and the 1990 United Nations Medal in Literature.

Antonei Csoka, PhD
Assistant Professor

Dr. Antonei B. Csoka received his B.S. in Genetics from the University of Newcastle, U.K. in 1991, his M.S. in Molecular Pathology and Toxicology from the University of Leicester, U.K. in 1993, and his Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Debrecen, Hungary in 1998. He performed postdoctoral research at the University of California, San Francisco, where he cloned the human hyaluronidase genes, which are involved in fertilization, embryonic development, and cancer. As a postdoctoral research associate at Brown University from 2001 to 2003, Dr. Csoka was a key player in the identification of the gene that causes Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome (progeria), a disease with many features of “accelerated aging.” It is hoped that the identification of the gene for progeria will provide insights into the mechanisms of normal aging. An assistant professor at Howard University, Dr. Csoka is developing animal models of progeria, studying the role of nuclear lamina dysfunction in human aging, and investigating the potential of stem cells, cellular reprogramming, and epigenetics for the treatment of age-related diseases.

Robert Freitas, JD
Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Molecular Manufacturing

Robert A. Freitas Jr., J.D., published the first detailed technical design study of a medical nanorobot ever published in a peer-reviewed mainstream biomedical journal and is the author of Nanomedicine, the first book-length technical discussion of the medical applications of nanotechnology and medical nanorobotics. Volume I was published in October 1999 by Landes Bioscience while Freitas was a Research Fellow at the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing (IMM) in Palo Alto, California. Freitas published Volume IIA in October 2003 while serving as a Research Scientist at Zyvex Corp., a nanotechnology company headquartered in Richardson, TX during 2000-2004. Freitas co-authored Kinematic Self-Replicating Machines (2004), another first-of-its-kind technical treatise, and as of 2020 had 57 refereed journal publications or contributed book chapters, 20 patents in the fields of nanotechnology and medical nanorobotics, and several web-published books. Freitas won the 2006 Guardian Award from Lifeboat Foundation, the 2007 Foresight Prize in Communication, and the 2009 Feynman Prize in nanotechnology for theory, and now serves as Senior Research Fellow at IMM.

Bart Kosko, PhD
Professor of Electrical Engineering

Dr. Kosko received his bachelors degrees in Economics and Philosophy from the University of Southern California, the masters degree in Applied Mathematics from the University of California, San Diego, and the Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of California, Irvine. His research interests include Adaptive Systems, Fuzzy Theory, Neural Networks, Dynamical Systems, Nonlinear Signal Processing, Intelligent Agents, Smart Materials, and Stochastic Resonance.

He has written seven books, including: Heaven in a Chip, Random House, 2000, Nanotime, Avon Books, 1997, Fuzzy Engineering, Prentice Hall, 1996, Fuzzy Thinking, Hyperion/Disney Books, 1993, Neural Networks for Signal Processing (editor), Prentice-Hall, 1991, and Neural Networks and Fuzzy Systems, Prentice-Hall, 1991 (ISBN 0-13-611435-0). He has published over one hundred technical papers.

Dr. Kosko’s technical activities include: Advisory Board: IEEE Transactions on Fuzzy Systems, Associate Editor: Information Sciences, Associate Editor: Neural Networks, Associate Editor: Soft Computing Research Journal, Governing Board, International Neural Network Society, Managing Editor, Lecture Notes in Neural Computing (Springer-Verlag monograph series), Co-editor of November 1998 IEEE Proceedings special issue on Intelligent Signal Processing, Program Chairman, 1987 IEEE International Conference on Neural Networks (ICNN-87), Program and Organizing Chairman, ICNN-88, Program Co-Chairman, 1990 International Joint Conference on Neural Networks (IJCNN-90), Program Co-Chairman, 1990 International Fuzzy-Neural Conference (Iizuka-90), Program Co-Chairman, Iizuka-92, Program Co-Chairman, INNS WCNN-93, Program Co-Chairman, INNS WCNN-96, and a former Director of USC’s Signal and Image Processing Institute.

James B. Lewis, PhD
Molecular Nanotechnology Pioneer

Dr. Lewis earned his B.A. degree in Chemistry in1967 from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA., his M.A. in Chemistry, 1968, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA., and his Chemistry, 1972, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. After his graduate work in RNA biochemistry and structure, Dr. Lewis spent 17 years studying the molecular biology of DNA tumor viruses, with emphasis on the adenovirus oncogenes.

He switched research focus upon joining Bristol-Myers Squibb, first doing some work on HIV proteins, and then spending 6 years working on active immunotherapy for cancer (cancer vaccines). During his last six months at BMS, he switched projects again, returning to molecular virology to begin a project to identify viral protein – cellular protein interactions that are important for the pathogenicity of HIV in the hope that these interactions would prove useful targets for drug screening. He has over 46 research papers published.

Over the past 10 years he has become increasingly interested in the evolution of current technology towards molecular nanotechnology, the anticipated ability to inexpensively fabricate complex molecular machinery having a broad range of capabilities. In his spare time he familiarized himself with the technological and scientific issues at a general level and co-edited two books on the subject: Nanotechnology: Research and Perspectives, BC Crandall and J. Lewis (editors), 1992, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England, and Prospects in Nanotechnology: Toward Molecular Manufacturing. M. Krummenacker and J. Lewis (editors). 1995. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. New York, Chichester, Brisbane, Toronto, Singapore.

Ralph C. Merkle, PhD
Director at Alcor Foundation

Dr. Merkle received his B.A. in Computer Science, U.C. Berkeley, 1974, his M.S. Computer Science, U.C. Berkeley, 1977, and his Ph.D., Electrical Engineering, Stanford, 1979. Thesis: Secrecy, authentication, and public key systems.

His current research interest is molecular manufacturing (also called nanotechnology). The central objective of molecular manufacturing is the design, modeling, and manufacture of systems that can inexpensively fabricate most products that can be specified in atomic detail.

This would include, for example, molecular logic elements connected in complex patterns to form molecular computers, molecular robotic arms or Stewart platforms (e.g., positional devices) able to position individual atoms or clusters of atoms under programmatic control (useful if we wish to make molecular computers and other molecular manufacturing systems), and a wide range of other molecular devices.

Dr. Merkle is an executive editor of the journal Nanotechnology, (published by IOPP) which publishes a broad range of articles both on molecular manufacturing and nano-scale research in general. He is a former Director of the Foresight Institute and chaired both the Fourth and Fifth Foresight Conferences on Molecular Nanotechnology, and a member of ACM, ACS, APS, and IEEE. He is also a Director of the Alcor Life Extension Foundation.

Further interests include cryonics, medical applications of nanotechnology, computational chemistry, reversible computing, neuroscience, extropians, and other areas. He is also interested in cryptography (including one-way hash functions and digital signatures based on one-way hash functions).

Dr. Merkle co-invented public key cryptography and received the Kanellakis Award. He has published 46 papers and holds 8 patents.

See video of Dr. Merkle’s presentation on Nanotechnology and Cryonics at the 2006 Alcor Conference.

Martine Rothblatt, PhD
CEO, United Therapeutics

Dr. Rothblatt received a B.A. degree from the University of California in 1977, her M.B.A and Juris Doctor from UCLA Schools of Management and Law in 1981, and her Ph.D. in Medical Ethics from the Royal College of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary College, University of London in 2001. She has extensive experience in information technology development and pharmaceuticals. During 1982 -1995 she held at various times positions as President of Orbital Projects, Inc., President & CEO of Geostar Corporation, Chief Operating Officer of WorldSpace Corporation, and Chairman & CEO of Sirius Satellite Radio. From 1996 to the present she has been the Chairman & CEO of United Therapeutics Corporation of Silver Spring, MD, where she initiates and manages programs in cardiopulmonary medicine, virology and neuroscience. Her most recent book, Your Life or Mine:  How Geoethics Resolves the Conflicts Between Public and Private Interests in Xenotransplantation, was published by Ashgate House in 2004.

Michael D. West, PhD
CEO, AgeX Therapeutics

Michael D. West, Ph.D., is the founder and CEO of AgeX Therapeutics, Inc. He received his Ph.D. from Baylor College of Medicine in 1989 concentrating on the biology of cellular ageing. He has focused his academic and business career on the application of developmental biology to age-related degenerative disease. He was the founder and first CEO of Geron Corporation, and from 1992 to 1998 he held various positions including CEO, Director, and Vice President. From 1998 to 2007, Dr West held positions as CEO, President, and Chief Scientific Officer at Advanced Cell Technology, Inc. (ACT), which was eventually acquired by Astellas Pharma, Inc. From 2007 to 2018, he was CEO/Co-CEO of BioTime, Inc.