Public Aging for Wellbeing and Longevity: Science for Human

This is Part 3 of an article written by Sang Chul Park, DGIST (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science & Technology) Chair Professor and Well Aging Research Center. Sang Chul Park discusses about aging revolution, pursuit for human longevity and well aging.

Sang Chul Park, DGIST Chair Professor and Well Aging Research Center.

Through this collaborative works of Korean centenarian study, I could propose a longevity model, named Park’s Temple Model of Human Longevity, in which for achieving longevity, multi factors are required, as if building up a temple; base, pillars and rooftop factors. The base factors are many natural variables, such as genes, personality, gender, ecology, and culture: the pillar factors are individual personal variables, such as nutrition, exercise, participation and relation: the rooftop factors are social variables such as healthcare system, social safety networks and social overhead capitals. In other words, this model informs that for longevity, all the dimensions of human living should work together. As suggested in this model, I tried my best to recommend and advice many programs to the public and community to prepare the coming aged society through persuading the local governments and the public to correct the individual lifestyles as well as the interactive relationship either personally or official campaign wise. Thereby, the GuGokSunDam longevity belt community was incorporated with my advice, consisted with 4 different counties of Gurye, Goksong, Sunchang, Damyang, which collaborated together for enhancing longevity culture and regional industrial development.

 Furthermore, our Institute could design and develop several programs to lead the public to more healthy life such as exercise program of the elders and cooking program of the male seniors. For the exercise program, the Korean traditional dance-based exercise was prepared with simplicity, regularity and affinity principles. Thereby, a series of Woori-Chum Chejo have been developed. The dance exercise has acquired the nickname as Longevity Dance and became very popular in senior society. For the cooking program, since the male adults are traditionally not accustomed to cooking and suffered from isolation in old ages, the simple but graceful foods for the seniors have been designed, which were open to public for cooking class. And in order to let the male seniors to be proud, the title of Gold Cook was given to those who cook by themselves after age of 60. Now this campaign of cooking class for male seniors becomes very popular as well. And our Institute initiated several educational programs on issues of aging society for the public, such as University of 3rd Age for the retirement preparing group, MiniMed School for general and scientific medical knowledge spread, and The Advanced Leaders Program for Aging Science for leader training in variety of disciplines.

During this period, I have been actively involved in organization and extension of Korean Society of Gerontology and Federation of Korean Societies of Gerontology to successfully organize the Asia/Oceania Regional Congress of IAGG and the International Congress of IAGG.

Meditation for Immortality and Community: Emerging Issue of Transhuman and Posthuman

 In 2011, I decided to retire from SNU after 33 years of service and temporally moved to Gachon University as Professor and Director of Lee Gil Ya Cancer and Diabetes Institute in order to revive and extend my science on aging, because after age of 60, it is almost impossible to get the grant and to recruit the students in Korea. But out of sudden in 2013, Samsung Electronics Co requested me to establish Well Aging Research Center in their globally-famous SAIT (Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology).
Without any hesitation but with ambition, I joined SAIT and did my best to establish the world best aging institute in order to initiate a record-breaking and concept-revolutionizing works of integrating BTIT-NT (Bio-Informatic-Nano Technology) for future aging community. But the project was suddenly closed by unexpected occasion, which I feel very sorry. Now,

I am at DGIST as Chair Professor for New Biology and Well Aging Research Center. My last experience at globally leading IT industrial institute aroused me to have a new vision on the coming new world. Human being is no more restricted to pure biological being, but the interaction of man and machine is enforcing human longevity as well as welfare. Therefore, it is now inevitable to take the issues of transhuman and posthuman into our consideration. No more traditional concept of aging and being, but the groundbreaking concept of human becoming should be positioned in the center of our discussion and meditation.

Foundation and Organization

 To look back the past, what I have done can be summarized as initiation, recruitment, activation, integration and marching together. I served as directors to Aging and Physical Culture Research Institute, WHO Collaborating Center for Physical Culture and Aging, Institute of Genetics and Molecular Biology, Aging and Apoptosis Research Center, Institute on Aging, SNU, Lee Gil Ya Cancer and Diabetes Institute, Gachon University, executive vice president to SAIT, vice dean of Student Affairs, SNUMC, Dean of Research Affairs, SNU and Presidents to Korean Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Korean Society of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Korean Society of Gerontology, Federation of Korean Societies of Gerontology, International Association of Biomedical Gerontology, International Society of Protein Crosslinking and Transglutaminases, and International Society of Sports Science. With these complicated busy jobs, my life has been always in rush and hush, but at any time, I dare to tell that I have done my best to promote and extend the organization that I was belong to.

Unfinished Sail Back and Forth for Tomorrow

 My sail between Scylla and Charybdis is unfinished yet. Ever continuing pressure of choice restricted the space and time, but I must survive in the global scientific society, which forced me to tradeoff my other part of life with my family for never ending works. As a human being, the choice is inevitable, as suggested by Kierkegaard“ Entweder oder ”. Choice of something means sacrifice of other. In every situation of my life, I have tried to choose anything with principle of better world for more people, for which I do not repent, though many things have been forlorn. In my lifelong path, I have been preoccupied haughtily by an illusion that my destiny is to stand aloof in the position of lighthouse to lead the direction, notwithstandingly unfamiliar to myself. To retrospect, aging research, though started haphazardly with crosslinking mechanism for irreversibility, was the beginning of my destination for aging science. However, now I am truly realized that all the experiences from days of graduate days, throughout postdoc period until now together with all the scientific tools and ideas have been intertwined harmoniously for my aging science. Thereby, in all through my works, the lessons from my Professors of comparison, change, and care alerted me to consider the private aging and public aging together for the human beings. And biochemical beauty of harmony, integration and relativity always guided me to the wonder of life.

 Now, it turns out nevertheless evident that the upcoming frightening progress in science and technology, exploded by informatics technology and tantalized by artificial intelligence, would swindle the basis of aging and longevity of human, who is no more being but becoming. The issues of immortality vs mortality, reversibility vs irreversibility, man and machine, nature and nurture are raised up imminently, which would definitely and heavily influence the human life span and quality of life. As a gerontologist, what to anticipate and how to confront the dizzy reality would be the biggest headache issue ahead.

In this situation, I wish my successors and juniors do not lose the hope of better world coming and hold the courage to confront the changes to save our community for well aging. Longevity with happiness is the goal of well aging, for which I would not hesitate or be tumbled down but sail ahead. And in conclusion of my essay, I would like to remind the impressive words by French philosopher Voltaire “Paradise is where I am”.

Published: 22 Feb 2017

Contact details:

Nari Kim

333, Techno jungang-daero, Hyeonpung-myeon, Dalseong-gun, Daegu, 42988

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Websites: DGIST website