“Every stem cell think it’s a fetus.”
On today’s episode, Dr. Bob Hariri shares his personal story on how being a pilot, film producer, and neurosurgeon sparked his interest in stem cell research to help solve the mysteries of aging, and how to live longer with dignity. We cover a lot of ground, including the breakthrough work he is currently researching as co-founder of Human Longevity, Inc, alongside his business partners Dr. Peter Diamonds and Dr. Craig Venter. We discuss everything from moonshots in medicine, to the convergence of cell therapy and genomics, to the realities and implication of what it means to live longer. Dr. Hariri believes we will see this research deployed in our lifetime, and shares his thoughts on the hurdles we need to overcome to make this vision a reality.
One thing is for certain…we will all die. But what if we are all able to live 50 years longer? how will that impact you? How would you live those extra years? What is the science driving this?That pipe dream of living longer is closer than you think.
Join us as we explore unchartered territory and dream of what’s possible.
All this and more on today’s episode. Now, That’s Unusual.
About Dr. Robert Hariri
Dr. Robert Hariri is a neurosurgeon, biomedical scientist, serial entrepreneur, aviator and film producer. The Founder, Chairman and former CEO of Celgene Cellular Therapeutics, he pioneered the use of stem cells to treat a range of life-threatening diseases and made transformative contributions to the field of tissue engineering. Hariri is also the Co-founder and Vice Chairman of Human Longevity, Inc., a genomics and cell therapy company with the mission of identifying the mechanisms responsible for age-related human biological decline and applying this intelligence to develop innovative solutions that interrupt or block those processes in order to meaningfully extend the human lifespan.
Dr. Hariri began his career as a pilot. While working for Pan Am, he discovered a proficiency for science and applied to medical school at Cornell. It was there that he worked with a partner to explore the lethal nature of traumatic brain injury and discovered that the swelling and resulting pressure could be managed by sinking a drainage system into the brain. They turned this innovation into a company, and Hariri’s interest in the biotech industry was born.
Recipient of the Thomas Alva Edison Award in both 2007 and 2011 and the Fred J. Epstein Lifetime Achievement Award, Dr. Hariri has received numerous honors for his many contributions to biomedicine as well as aviation. He is a jet-rated commercial pilot with thousands of hours of flight time and the producer of several feature films and documentaries on global societal issues.
Key Interview Takeaways
“Every stem cell thinks that it’s a fetus.” Stem cells reside in every organ and tissue of the body, and they are called upon to repair or heal — just the way cell differentiation happens in a fetus. As a young surgeon, Hariri witnessed fetal surgery and was fascinated by that fact that when the baby was born, there was no evidence of the surgery and no scar. He is working to harness that power to repair the brain and heart after trauma.We are designed to naturally remodel ourselves, but our ability to do so becomes disrupted as we age or develop illnesses. Stem cells can restore the functional regenerative process and thus restore the anatomic and physiological functions consistent with health.Every cell is like a miniature computer. If we can read and interpret the software, we can better understand an individual’s likelihood to develop illness or resist disease. And we are beginning to realize that stem cells may be capable of fixing abnormalities or deficiencies in the resident software of an individual.
Our ability to sequence DNA at scale combined with the availability of gene editing tools is powering our capability to deliver preventative and precision medicine. On an individual level, this means that once you have read your genome and understand what your biology has programmed you to be, you can take steps to maximize your health. Think of it as a health roadmap that helps you identify and avoid potential hazards.
“The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself.” Dr. Peter Diamandis believes that we are moving toward evolution by intelligent direction. He is assembling the best minds in genomics and cellular medicine to develop tools that will help us understand our biological software, identify and circumvent health risks, and delay or reverse changes that lead to dysfunctional degenerative aging.
The three essential components of healthy aging are the maintenance of high-performance cognitive function, physical mobility and physical aesthetics.
Effective storytelling is a powerful tool regardless of your field of interest. Hariri argues that science should be disseminated via documentary film, adding an important human element for the lay audience.