Cryonics Institute

Cryonics Institute
Cryonics Institute
Cryonics Institute Logo.jpg
Founder(s) Richard C. Davis, Robert Ettinger, Mae A. Junod, Walter E. Runkel
Founded April 4, 1976(1976-04-04)
(35 years ago)
Location 24355 Sorrentino Court, Charter Township of Clinton, Michigan 48035
Coordinates 42°33′18.7″N 82°51′59.83″W / 42.555194°N 82.8666194°W / 42.555194; -82.8666194
Key people Andy Zawacki, Ben Best
Area served Global
Focus Cryopreservation of humans and pets in the hope of future reanimation.
Method Cryonics vitrification perfusion[1] and cryogenic storage[2]
Revenue Membership fees and donations; Master Cemetery Trust
Volunteers 16
Employees 3
Members 935 (July 1, 2011)

The Cryonics Institute (CI) is a member-owned-and-operated not-for-profit corporation which provides cryonics services. It is located in Clinton Township, Michigan.

As of 1 July 2011, CI had 938 members, 459 of whom had funding and contracts in place to be cryopreserved upon legal death. 105 of those funded members had contracts with Suspended Animation, Inc. for standby and transport. 106 humans and 179 human tissue/DNA samples and 80 pets and 51 pet tissue/DNA samples are cryonically preserved in liquid nitrogen storage.[3]



The Cryonics Institute was incorporated in the state of Michigan on 4 April 1976 by four local residents: Richard C. Davis, Robert Ettinger, Mae A. Junod and Walter E. Runkel. Ettinger is widely known as "the father of cryonics" because his book The Prospect of Immortality is believed to have launched the cryonics movement. CI's first client was Ettinger's mother in 1977, and until the beginning of the 1990s, only one more client came along. This was Ettinger's first wife in 1987.[4]

In March 1978, the Cryonics Institute purchased a building near Detroit.[4] It served as its location until 1994, when the organization moved to the new Erfurt Runkel Building. It is named after John C Erfurt and Walter E. Runkel (which are now both in suspension there), and has a sprinkler system for additional security.[5][6]

Ettinger was CI President for over 25 years until September 2003, when Ben Best became President/CEO and Ettinger became Vice-President. Ettinger retired as Vice-President on his 87th birthday in December 2005, but remained a Director until new Directors were elected in September 2006. For most of the 1990s, Best was President of the Cryonics Society of Canada (CSC) and was Editor of Canadian Cryonics News until the last issue was published in Spring of 2000. He is still a Director of CSC.

In 2003, an article was published in Sports Illustrated magazine centering around the cryonics organization Alcor Life Extension Foundation; the article contained accusations from a fired Alcor employee alleging Alcor had mishandled the cryopreservation of baseball star Ted Williams. Despite the fact that the Cryonics Institute was not involved in the case, the media hype spurred the state of Michigan to place CI under a "Cease and Desist" order for six months.

Finally, the Michigan government decided to license and regulate the Cryonics Institute as a cemetery.[7] This is the reason why, since then, the perfusion of the bodies cannot be performed in the building itself anymore. In accordance to law, it must be done at the facilities of a funeral director.


Cryonics Institute main facility in Clinton Township, Michigan

All Officers[8] of the Cryonics Institute are also Directors.[9] As of 2010, the Cryonics Institute Officers were:

President Ben Best
Vice-President Alan Mole
Secretary Joseph Kowalsky
Treasurer Patrick Heller
Assistant Treasurer S.R. Luyckx
Contract Officer Constance Ettinger


The Cryonics Institute has 12 Directors on its Board,[9] four of whom are elected by the members every year at the Annual General Meeting (usually held on the last Sunday of September). The Board then selects the Officers: President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer. All members of the board are volunteers.[10]

Unlike other cryonics organizations, the Cryonics Institute only allows its members to arrange for whole body storage, not simply heads (neuropreservation). Anyone can become a Lifetime Member by paying $1,250 and filling out a membership form—or become a Yearly Member by paying a $75 Initiation fee plus $120 per year (or $35 per quarter). A Lifetime Member has the privilege of making arrangements for perfusion and storage in liquid nitrogen for $28,000, whereas a Yearly Member must pay $35,000.[11] CI has not raised the $28,000 price or $1,250 fee since the time of its inception in 1976. The Cryonics Institute has stated in the past it can offer lower rates than competing cryonics organizations because it is less reliant on member fees due to amount of donations, and it has been described as "conservatively managed".[12]

The basic $28,000/$35,000 cryopreservation fees and contract with the Cryonics Institute does not include Standby or Transport. CI members living outside of Michigan must normally provide extra funding to pay for funeral director services and shipping. CI members wanting Standby and Transport from cryonics professionals can contract for additional payment to the Florida-based company Suspended Animation, Inc.[13] CI has had clients from as far away as Australia.[14] A quarter of current CI members are international.[15]

The Immortalist Society is a closely associated educational organization that publishes the magazine Long Life (formerly called The Immortalist) every two months. Long Life reports on activities of the Cryonics Institute along with other information related to cryonics and life extension and is available online for free. The previous newsletter of the Cryonics Society of Michigan was The Outlook.[16]

Technical procedures

The Cryonics Institute has always provided all initial procedures, transport and storage internally, without contracting out to other providers.[17] For most of its history, CI perfused bodies with the (antifreeze) cryoprotectant glycerol, but in the year 2000 a cryobiologist was hired: Yuri Pichugin, Ph.D. who had done research on the Hippocampal Slice Cryopreservation Project (HSCP). HSCP was a project focused on vitrification of rat brain hippocampal slices which involved cooling to −130 degrees Celsius, rewarming and testing for viability. The results of the HSPC were published in the April 2006 issue of the journal Cryobiology.[18]

At the Cryonics Institute, Pichugin developed a vitrification mixture which is superior to glycerol in preventing ice formation. This vitrification mixture was first applied to two dogs of members who wanted their pets cryopreserved in 2004 and early 2005. The first human client received the vitrification mixture in the summer of 2005 using a new procedure in which the head was vitrified while still attached to the body, which was frozen without any cryoprotectant.[19] In February 2007 the Cryonics Institute abandoned its efforts to patent its vitrification mixture and disclosed the formula to preclude others from preventing its use by CI.[20] Dr. Pichugin resigned from the Cryonics Institute in December 2007.[21]

In the summer of 2005, the Cryonics Institute obtained some custom-built computer-controlled cooling boxes, with LabVIEW software which would allow controlled cooling to a temperature as low as −192°C (−313°F). This equipment was necessary for effective application of vitrification, because cooling should be as fast as possible prior to the solidification temperature of the vitrification mixture (about −125°C), but cooling should be very slow below that temperature to reduce cracking due to thermal stress.

Instead of using dewars for storage, the Cryonics Institute cryopreserves bodies in large fiberglass/resin liquid-nitrogen-filled "thermos bottles" which CI calls "cryostats". The first cryostats were hand-built in-house[16] by Facilities Manager Andy Zawacki, but now the units are custom built by an external manufacturer. Costs for liquid nitrogen in the newest and most efficient cryostats was below $100 per human body per year in May 2006. Cost reduction is greatly assisted by the use of a 3,000 gallon bulk tank for liquid nitrogen, which is located behind the building. From this central point the liquid nitrogen gets distributed to the cryostats over a system of pipes.[22]

American Cryonics Society

While for much of its history the Cryonics Institute stored only its own clients,[17] since the mid-1990s it has contracted with the American Cryonics Society to store ACS clients at CI. The ACS inspects CI yearly to ensure ACS quality standards are met.[23] The extra funds charged to ACS members beyond CI minimums could be used for moving the bodies in the future if necessary, or other uses.[23]


  1. ^ "Outline of CI Cryopreservation Procedures". Cryonics Institute. Retrieved 2010-11-05. 
  2. ^ "Cryostats for Cryogenic Storage". Cryonics Institute. Retrieved 2010-11-05. 
  3. ^ "Cryonics Institute (CI) Statistics Details". Cryonics Institute. Retrieved 2011-07-26. 
  4. ^ a b Bridge, Steve (1992). "Fifteen Years in Cryonics". Alcor Indiana newsletter (Alcor Indiana). Retrieved 2009-08-24. 
  5. ^ "Long Life". Retrieved 2011-02-12. 
  6. ^ Best, Ben. "Cryonics Institute Sprinkler System". Retrieved 2011-02-12. 
  7. ^ Piet, Elizabeth (2004-02-17). "Cryonics lab one of three in United States". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-05-30. 
  8. ^ "Officers of the Cryonics Institute". Cryonics Institute. Retrieved 2008-07-01. 
  9. ^ a b "Directors of the Cryonics Institute". Cryonics Institute. Retrieved 2010-11-05. 
  10. ^ "Frozen Bodies Reside In Clinton Township". Channel 4 Detroit. Archived from the original on 2005-03-22. Retrieved 2009-08-25. 
  11. ^ "Becoming A Member: the FAQ". Cryonics Institute. Retrieved 2008-05-01. 
  12. ^ "CryoCare Report #3". CryoCare. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  13. ^ Best, Ben (2008). "A History of Cryonics". The Immortalist. Cryonics Institute. Retrieved 2009-08-24. 
  14. ^ Bersten, Rosanne (2002). "Australians put hands up for big freeze". The Age. Retrieved 2009-08-25. 
  15. ^ "CI Membership Worldwide". Cryonics Institute. Retrieved 2009-08-25. 
  16. ^ a b Darwin, Mike (1991). "Cold War: The Conflict Between Cryonicists and Cryobiologists". Cryonics (Alcor Life Extension Foundation). Retrieved 2009-08-24. 
  17. ^ a b Mondragon, Carlos (1994). "Defining the Cryonics Institution". Cryonics and Life Extension Conference. Alcor Life Extension Foundation. Retrieved 2009-08-23. 
  18. ^ Pichugin,Fahy,Morin (April 2006). "Cryopreservation of rat hippocampal slices by vitrification" (PDF). Cryobiology 52 (2): 228–240. doi:10.1016/j.cryobiol.2005.11.006. PMID 16403489. 
  19. ^ Ben Best. "The Cryonics Institute's 69th Client". Cryonics Institute. Retrieved 2007-03-09. 
  20. ^ Best, Ben (2007-02-23). "Cryonics Institute Vitrification Formula Disclosure". CryoNet. Retrieved 2007-09-02. 
  21. ^ "Dr. Pichugin resigns, Chana de Wolf visits". Cryonics Institute. 2007-12-14. Retrieved 2008-05-01. 
  22. ^ Best, Ben. "Cryonics Institute Bulk Tank Filling, July 2008". Retrieved 2011-02-13. 
  23. ^ a b Best, Ben (2008). "Revival Assets Seminar". The Immortalist (Cryonics Institute). Retrieved 2009-08-26. 

External links

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