Remembering Origin of Life Trailblazer Harry Lonsdale

“I’ve had four careers in the last 80 years. Starting my own company was the biggest thrill. But this is the second biggest thrill of my life. It really is.” — Harry Lonsdale in conversation with me about his Origin of Life Challenge

Philanthropist Harry Lonsdale, who died late last year at age 82, will be remembered for the $2M competition he kicked off in 2011, a race to discover the origin of life. In 2012, Lonsdale announced he was awarding a prize of $50K for the best “first life” proposal plus $300K in research funding to the top three finishing teams, choosing from among 76 papers he received. He then refunded the three teams in 2013 and 2014.

Origin of life had been a sleepy area of scientific inquiry until Lonsdale’s entrance. The investigation is now serious, with “life in the lab” being projected as a reality perhaps within three years.

Harry Lonsdale was a chemist and businessman who became a millionaire when he sold his Oregon-based high tech company to Pfizer. But Lonsdale was more — a people’s champion who wanted to give back. He was too good for Washington D.C. politics, really, and —> Read More Here


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