September 24, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

Lessons from Dick Clark about aging and stem cells

Long-time television and music personality, Dick Clark, has passed away at age 82 today.

Growing up as a kid in the 1970s and 80s, I knew Dick Clark from American Bandstand and $20,000 pyramid, but more than that I knew him for how amazingly young he always looked. I was not a big fan of his TV shows and didn’t really like his New Year’s Eve show that much, but his youthfulness always struck me.

When Clark was in his 60s, he looked like he was in his 40s or maybe 30s even. In his 70s, he looked in his 50s.

I don’t think he ever had plastic surgery or used Botox. He just seemed so naturally youthful and healthy. He got the nickname as America’s oldest teenager.

However, cardiovascular disease caught up with him in the form of a stroke and then now a lethal heart attack. After his stroke, Clark suddenly looked his age or older even. It was very sad and a shock to see him.

I  really liked Dick Clark as he seemed a genuinely kind person. One lesson from his death is that disease, aging, and death catch up with all of us no matter who we are.

Even though youthful appearance is correlated with health and inversely with mortality, it is not protection. It is no magical umbrella. Stem cells are also not magic, but they provide some realistic hope for future therapies for cardiovascular diseases.