In his own words: Aging expert Mark Gunderson | nnbw.com
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In his own words: Aging expert Mark Gunderson

The basics

Name/title: Mark C. Gunderson, MD/Medical director, Age Management Institute

Number of years in this job? Age Management Institute was founded in 2004

Years in this profession? 31

Education: B.A. and M.S. in biology and emphasis on biochemistry from East Carolina University. MD from Bowman Gray School of Medicine at Wake Forest. University Emergency Medicine Residency from Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Last book read? “Alive or Dead” by Tom Clancy

Favorite flick? “Apocalypse Now”

What’s on your iPod? Lots of rock and roll — everything from the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Who and some modern rock

Spouse, kids or pets? I have a girlfriend and four kids ages 12 to 20.

Northern Nevada Business Weekly: Tell us about your company and the duties of your position.

Mark Gunderson: Basically, I optimize adult health. I evaluate patients — their overall health, bone density, body competition and more. We do a complete laboratory, CBCs, chemistries, lipids, cardiovascular screening, complete male/female hormone panels and measure the hormones we lose as we age. With their detailed medical and dietary history, we talk to our patients and try to best understand their health goals. Age management is truly the new medical paradigm for health.

NNBW: What made you get into the aging profession?

Gunderson: I’m a scientist with two degrees in biology (undergraduate and graduate degrees). I was born to optimize health. In my opinion, this is probably the only medical specialty that tries to make people better with a true wellness model. Not just treating disease or an illness, but preventing as much as we can from happening in the first place.

NNBW: What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?

Gunderson: Dealing with the availability of compounded pharmaceutical products that are vital. A lot of products are being removed, and I think there’s an economic war in our healthcare system and it’s a challenge to overcome.

NNBW: What’s the main concern of the majority of your clients? How have those concerns changed over the years?

Gunderson: One of the universal things I see is as my patients age, and doctors tell them their lab tests are normal, healthy, etc, but still they’re just not feeling fine. They are not as strong, have less energy, are less agile. Basically, their quality of life is diminishing even though they are considered “healthy” in our system. At the Age Management Institute, we optimize our patient’s diet, nutrition and hormonal supplementation to improve their overall quality of life, weight loss, bone density, muscle mass, sexual health, skin and more.

NNBW: What was your first job?

Gunderson: When I was 12 I mowed lawns, had a paper route and cleaned pools around my neighborhood in L.A.

NNBW: What’s your dream job. Why aren’t you working it?

Gunderson: I like what I’m doing now. My dream job, I suppose, was to be a pitcher for the Dodgers. Now that I have some years and wisdom, I guess my adult dream job would be to advance age management and educate healthcare professionals in what I do so that we can all have a more satisfying medical career and good patient results.

NNBW: What lesson would you like to impart to the people you don’t work with?

Gunderson: How one can age is not an option. Age management can restore quality and balance in one’s life as we age gracefully.

NNBW: What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Gunderson: Be yourself and don’t settle for anything. Also, know that sometimes you have to be willing to fail in order to succeed.

NNBW: What are your favorite hobbies or pastimes? How do you spend your time away from work?

Gunderson: In my 50s I taught myself to play the guitar, so I’m enjoying that right now, as well as singing. I like to exercise. I like fitness, playing basketball. I also enjoy going to my cabin in Quincy, being outdoors, swimming, fishing and biking. This year I want to learn how to kite board!

NNBW: If you could live your life over again, what one thing would you change?

Gunderson: I started college at 17, and if I could change anything I think I would have taken that year after high school, before college to have more time to physically mature. Maybe attend a prep school for basketball. I would have loved to play college sports, and I think being so young at the time kept me from accomplishing that goal.

NNBW: What has been your biggest professional accomplishment?

Gunderson: Starting Age Management Institute in 2004. At the time, it was a specialty that had no track record, wasn’t in our area at all, and was considered a bit controversial because it was so new. I’m proud of the impact I’ve had on my patients’ health and that the field is becoming more and more respected and understood.

NNBW: What did you dream of becoming when you were a kid?

Gunderson: An astronaut, but I was too tall.

NNBW: Who would you most like to have dinner with? Why?

Gunderson: Abraham Lincoln. He had incredible courage and wisdom. Modern presidents pale in respect to some of the people we had before. His courage and position on civil rights and equality — he was a great president.

NNBW: If you had enough money to retire right now, would you? Why or why not?

Gunderson: If we think of work as “work,” we have to retire. I don’t really see it that way. I want to continue to grow my knowledge base. Naturally I want to find balance in my life. But, I anticipate working at some capacity, even as a supervisor or teacher for a very long time. I think you need to stay active for your brain and to continue to grow as a person.

NNBW: What’s the last concert or sporting event you attended?

Gunderson: Right now I’m following my kids’ high school basketball and volleyball careers. I enjoy UNR football, too. It’s been a long time since I saw a concert … probably Santana.

NNBW: Where’s your perfect vacation spot?

Gunderson: Maui.

NNBW: Why did you choose a career in northern Nevada? What do you like most about working/living here?

Gunderson: I grew up in L.A., and I’ve lived back East and in the Midwest. I always wanted to come back to the West Coast. I would travel various places but always kept coming back to the area to visit family in Lake Tahoe. It’s one of the nicest places in the world. I took a job in Carson City because I wanted to live near the mountains (rather than near the ocean) to enjoy the outdoor activities in the region. I love the Sierra Nevada, hiking and just being outdoors in general.

Know someone whose perspective you would like to share with readers? Email reporter Rob Sabo at rsabo@nnbw.biz or call 775-850-2146.