Prof. Daniel Martínez's research project "Identifying and Characterizing the Genes of Immortality in Hydra" was among the first research proposals selected for funding by The Immortality Project at the University of California, Riverside. Martínez will use the $250,000 grant to determine what genes are implicated in making the freshwater hydra effectively immortal, research that has implications for human medicine.
The Immortality Project, which was established at UCR in 2012 with a $5 million three-year grant form the John Templeton Foundation to undertake a rigorous examination of a wide range of issues related to immortality.
"The research should push forward the frontiers of knowledge about death and immortality in various ways," said John Martin Fischer, the project's principal investigator and a distinguished professor of philosophy at UCR. For example, "I expect that we will advance our understanding of the prospects for increasing human longevity and of the ability of certain creatures (hydra) to achieve a kind of immortality by reproducing themselves; that we will achieve a more refined evaluation of the nature, significance, and impact of near-death experiences; and that we will gain a better understanding of the relationship between our 'commonsense' or 'natural' beliefs about personhood, religion, or the deceased and our views about immortality."