X-Message-Number: 14265
Date: Mon, 7 Aug 2000 12:52:33 EDT
Subject: conflicts of interest etc

Wakfer has mentioned possible conflict of interest involving Fred 
Chamberlain, Alcor, and BioTransport. I would like to see some light on 
certain questions involving the organizations and people indicated below. In 
all cases, the statements of fact are to the best of my knowledge, and I will 
be glad to receive any new or additional relevant information.

First, for relative newcomers, the following:

INC is the Institute for Neural Cryobiology. Wakfer appears to be the only 
active director. It appears to be a currently tax exempt, nonprofit 
corporation headquartered in Canada. 

HCSP is the Hippocampal Slice Cryopreservation Project, the research focus of 

HUREI (sometimes just REI) is the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Institute for 
Research and Education, apparently run by University of California personnel. 

CURI  According to one cryonet posting by Wakfer on 3/4/99, this stands for 
California University Research Institute, apparently the same as REI or HUREI.

21CM is 21st Century Medicine, owned by Saul Kent and Bill Faloon, for 
profit. There are also related for-profit companies.

INC has been funded by a few individual donations, especially by Ben Best, 
who felt obliged to kick in a lot of his limited personal funds not long ago 
to keep INC in business. 21CM has not spent any cash on INC, although it has 
allowed Greg Fahy to spend some of his time, as an employe of 21CM, on INC 
research oversight.

According to Wakfer posts on cryonet, INC has contracts with HUREI and with 
21CM. 21CM gets exclusive marketing rights to any results of HSCP research. 

Besides the obvious questions raised about conflicts of interest and tax 
exemption, the more important questions involve the motivations and implied 

INC seems to be hanging by a thread, gets no money from 21CM, and had to be 
rescued recently by Ben Best's personal added donation. At the same time, 
Wakfer and Fahy and others seem to believe that INC's HCSP is our best and 
brightest hope for early major advances in brain cryopreservation. Kent and 
Faloon and their companies have a lot of money, by our standards. They are 
genuine cryonicists, with a keen sense of their personal stake in research 
results. Yet they play hardball with INC, and seem willing to let it die if 
others don't fund it. How are we to interpret all this?

One possibility is just hardball and brinkmanship. INC money is not large 
relative to the total 21CM budget, but it isn't insignificant either, and 
obviously Kent, Faloon et al would prefer that other people kick in. 

Another possibility is that Kent, Faloon et al have different priorities. 
Most of the 21CM work is not in cryonics, but related to clinical medicine, 
with possible large financial returns. Maybe they think the bigger picture 
requires making money first, with brain cryopreservation a lower priority.

Incidentally, while Wakfer has previously published estimates of INC funding 
details, we have not, as far as I know, seen detail on money actually spent, 
including wages or salaries actually paid.

Now, some people will regard all this as tiresome and even irrelevant. If 
INC' s HCSP is so promising, just give them what they need and it doesn't 
matter who profits financially. Nothing wrong with that, and mainly for that 
reason we agreed to publish Wakfer's latest donations appeal in the next 

But others will want to make a more careful estimate of bang-for-the-buck. CI 
has a research program and so does Alcor, and I believe ACS as well to some 
extent. CI in particular is not swinging for the fences, just working for 
incremental improvements, and we will soon begin to report on a new series of 
experiments. Some of our members may well conclude that the marginal effect 
of their potential donations will be greater for the CI work. Incremental 
improvements are virtually guaranteed; home runs are not.

The problem for the average reader, as usual, is that you have basically two 
choices. One is to study all the available data and make calculations of 
probability. The other is to follow your hunches or your favorite guru and 
let it go at that. Or you can have a hybrid approach. In any case, nothing is 
guaranteed, but you have to place your bets and take your chances. 

Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute
Immortalist Society

Rate This Message: http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/rate.cgi?msg=14265