The Lucas project is a personal and fairly unofficial research programme to examine statistical mechanical models of ageing and age-related disease.
Unlike most other models, such models do not assume any 'clock' of ageing (other than the inevitable ticking of entropy), and do not have to make explicit assumptions about the nature of the molecular processes going on in all of us. Rather, it asks: if living things are a complex network of interdependent systems, organised in this case heirachically, what properties would we expect the network as a whole to have if its components are prone to failure?
Rather surprisingly - at least, it was surprising to me - it turns out you can model rather accurately a range of aspects of the human demographic curve as a whole, and both death rates and oncogene mutation patterns specifically, using this approach. I have not tried other diseases yet.
Here is a short and lighthearted introduction to what set me off down this route, and one direction I am planning to take it.
Here is the technical support material for my Mechanisms in Ageing and Development paper (M.A.D. 112:89-97).
Here is the technical support material for the paper submitted to Rejeuvenation Research.
William Bains. June 2004.