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STEM-Talk

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Rank #52 in Natural Sciences category

Alternative Health
Health & Fitness
Science
Natural Sciences
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The most interesting people in the world of science and technology

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The most interesting people in the world of science and technology

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James

By 詹姆斯3。noway - Apr 05 2020
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I am only a few episodes in but know I am hooked. I get the impression that Dawn is a skilled ai marionettist, will have to keep listening to know for sure. Great podcast, keep it up.

The Best in Class

By drjohndeluca - Sep 03 2019
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The premier science and medicine podcast. You always come out a little bit smarter after listening.

iTunes Ratings

500 Ratings
Average Ratings
425
30
17
13
15

James

By 詹姆斯3。noway - Apr 05 2020
Read more
I am only a few episodes in but know I am hooked. I get the impression that Dawn is a skilled ai marionettist, will have to keep listening to know for sure. Great podcast, keep it up.

The Best in Class

By drjohndeluca - Sep 03 2019
Read more
The premier science and medicine podcast. You always come out a little bit smarter after listening.
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STEM-Talk

Latest release on Jun 23, 2020

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The most interesting people in the world of science and technology

Rank #1: Episode 79: Satchin Panda discusses circadian rhythms and time-restricted eating to improve health and even reverse disease

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Dr. Satchin Panda is a professor and researcher at the Salk Institute who has become recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on circadian rhythm. In today’s wide-ranging interview, he discusses how the body’s natural day-night cycle can help us improve our health, get a better night’s sleep and lose weight. He also shares how adopting a lifestyle that is aligned with the body’s natural internal clock can even help us prevent and reverse disease.

Satchin also has been generating significant attention for his research into the health benefits of time-restricted eating. He is the author of “The Circadian Code” and in today’s interview he shares how listeners can become involved in a research project he and his colleagues are conducting through a smartphone app called My Circadian Clock.

In addition to his work at the Salk Institute, Satchin is also a founding executive member of the Center for Circadian Biology at the University of California, San Diego.  Key topics covered in today’s interview include:

  • [00:03:46] How a rapidly evolving modern society disrupts the interconnectedness of our biological rhythms.
  • [00:13:41] How Satchin became interested in circadian rhythms and metabolism.
  • [00:17:11] Satchin’s first mouse study on time-restricting feeding, which so surprised him that he ended up repeating the study three times.
  • [00:21:37] The role of ketosis in time-restricted eating, particularly in regard to weight loss and potential health benefits.
  • [00:25:01] Whether having black coffee signals the beginning of a person’s eating window.
  • [00:27:31] The potential use of caffeine to treat jet lag induced by international time-zone travel.
  • [00:29:31] Satchin’s mouse studies that looked at obesity and type-2 diabetes.
  • [00:30:58] The dangers of shift work and the importance of sleep.
  • [00:45:39] Satchin talks about the importance of darkness when it comes to sleep and our circadian rhythms.
  • [00:48:42] Satchin’s 2017 paper in Aging Research Reviews titled “ Circadian rhythms, time-restricted feeding, and healthy aging.
  • [00:51:59] Satchin’s recent paper in Cell Metabolism, “Time-Restricted Feeding Prevents Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome in Mice Lacking a Circadian Clock.”
  • [01:00:19] The role of diet in people who lost weight during time-restricted feeding.
  • [01:06:30] “My Circadian Clock,”an app Satchin and his lab at Salk Institute have developed.
  • [01:20:02] Satchin discusses how he convinced his mother to try time-restricted eating.
  • [01:25:32] What Satchin’s diet and eating window looks like on a typical day.

Show notes:

[00:03:05] Satchin begins the interview talking about being raised in India and his parents’ expectation that he would become a doctor or engineer.

[00:03:46] Satchin talks about his book “The Circadian Code,” which is dedicated to his maternal and paternal grandparents. He touches on how a rapidly evolving modern society disrupts the interconnectedness of our biological rhythms.

[00:06:14] Satchin shares how when he was a junior in high school, he lost his father in an accident with a truck driver.

[00:07:21] Dawn asks Satchin to talk about how going to agricultural school like his father did cemented Satchin’s interest in science.

[00:08:44] Dawn asks how Satchin ended up with a research job at a flavor and fragrance manufacturer in India after finishing his master’s degree.

[00:10:10] Satchin talks about what led him to Canada and eventually the U.S.

[00:11:21] Ken asks Satchin why he decided to pursue at Ph.D. in plant circadian rhythm.

[00:13:41] The circadian rhythm field primarily focuses on understanding the timing mechanism in biological systems like plants, fruit flies, mice and humans.  Satchin discusses how he took a different route and became interested in circadian rhythms and metabolism.

[00:15:13] Dawn asks what it is like to work at the Salk institute, a place where Nobel laureates such as Francis Crick once worked.

[00:17:11] Satchin talks about his first time-restricted feeding mouse study, which so surprised him that he repeated the study three times.

[00:19:03] Ken asks Satchin what he was expecting to learn when he started the mouse studies.

[00:20:06] Dawn asks about Satchin’s published findings of his experiments in 2012, which raised the question of whether eight hours was the magic number for time-restricted eating.

[00:21:37] Knowing that people go into ketosis after 12 to 16 hours without food, Dawn asks if Satchin has looked at the role of ketosis in time-restricted eating, particularly in regard to weight loss and potential health benefits.

[00:22:39] In the mouse studies, the mice that followed time-restricted eating also had an endurance benefit. Dawn asks if Satchin thinks this might also be related to ketosis.

[00:25:01] Satchin says in his book, “The moment you eat breakfast, or have your first cup of coffee or tea, is the beginning of your eating window.” Dawn points out that Satchin also says in the book that water doesn’t signal the start of the eating window. She then asks about black coffee, which, like water, has no calories.

[00:27:31] Ken asks about the potential use of caffeine to treat jet lag induced by international time-zone travel.

[00:29:31] Satchin talks about mouse studies his lab did a few years ago that looked at obesity and type-2 diabetes.

[00:30:58] Satchin discusses the point he makes in his book about the dangers of shift work and the importance of sleep.

[00:35:11] Dawn asks about a study Satchin is currently undertaking looking at firefighters and shift work.

[00:38:10] Numerous studies have shown that time restricted feeding schedules may be able to shift the phase of activity in animals such as mice. Ken asks what Satchin thinks the underlying mechanisms of this may be.

[00:40:56] In his book, Satchin mentions that chronotypes — the existence of night owls and morning larks — are largely a myth. Ken asks if we really know whether chronotypes exist or not.

[00:44:14] Satchin talks about how he responded when, while at a symposium in Stockholm, a well-respected scientist in the area of obesity came up to Satchin after his talk and said there was no data that shift work causes more disease.

[00:45:39] Satchin talks about the importance of darkness when it comes to sleep and our circadian rhythm.

[00:48:42] Satchin’s 2017 paper in Aging Research Reviews titled “ Circadian rhythms, time-restricted feeding, and healthy aging.“ points out that circadian rhythms optimize physiology and health by temporally coordinating cellular function, tissue function and behavior. Dawn asks how this study found that optimizing the timing of external cues with defined eating patterns could sustain a person’s circadian clock and possibly prevent disease.

[00:51:59] Satchin discusses his mouse study that was detailed in his recent paper in Cell Metabolism titled, “Time-Restricted Feeding Prevents Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome in Mice Lacking a Circadian Clock.”

[00:54:59] Ken asks if the benefits of time-restricted feeding reproduced in different mouse strains and across genders, or if all studies been done on the same mouse strain/gender.

[00:56:43] Dawn asks if the experimental models using mice, who are nocturnal animals, are presenting difficulties in terms of translating the effects of time-restricted feeding on humans.

[00:58:39] Ken asks Satchin for his thoughts on the findings of Joseph Takahashi’s work. Ken wonders if Takahashi’s findings imply that some of the benefits of caloric restriction in mice may actually be due to time restriction.

[01:00:19] In Satchin’s human studies, people who had 8- to 12-hour eating windows also had some health benefits and lost weight. Dawn asks what role a person’s diet played in weight loss.

[01:03:03] Satchin discusses his thoughts on the translatability of research examining circadian rhythm and inflammatory mechanisms in mice.

[01:06:30] Satchin and his lab at Salk Institute have developed an app called “My Circadian Clock,” which is part of a research project that’s using smartphones to track people’s daily behaviors. Dawn asks Satchin to give an overview of the project and discuss how people can participate in the research.

[01:09:53] Satchin briefly talks about any potential efficacy in commercial sleep tracking devices.

[01:12:08] Satchin talks about the findings of a National Institute of Aging paper that showed time-restricted eating might increase longevity.

[01:14:40] Satchin talks about his work with Dr. Valter Longo, who was the guest on episode 64 of STEM-Talk.

[01:16:45] While research on chronopharmacology is encouraging, Satchin discusses what some of the main logistical constraints we face in trying to apply its tenets in the clinic.

[01:20:02] Satchin discusses how he convinced his mother to try time-restricted eating.

[01:23:01] Commenting on how all of Satchin’s mother’s siblings have some sort of metabolic disease, either high cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension or a combination of the three, Dawn asks what is it about the Indian diet that is so unhealthy.

[01:25:32] Satchin talks about what his diet and eating window look like on a typical day.

[01:26:28] Regarding the symposium Satchin attended in Stockholm. Ken asks how he deals with travel and jet lag in terms of his circadian rhythm.

[01:28:27] In terms of the future, Dawn ends the interview asking Satchin what new studies he is considering and what direction he thinks his research will take.

Links

Salk Institute

Dr. Satchin Panda bio

“The Circadian Code”

My Circadian Clock app

Circadian rhythms, time-restricted feeding, and healthy aging

Time-Restricted Feeding Prevents Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome in Mice Lacking a Circadian Clock

Dr. Valter Longo, who was the guest on episode 64 of STEM-Talk.

Learn more about IHMC

STEM-Talk homepage

Ken Ford bio

Dawn Kernagis bio

Dec 18 2018

1hr 32mins

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Rank #2: Episode 35: Stuart McGill explains the mechanics of back pain and the secrets to a healthy spine

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Back pain has become the world’s leading cause of disability.

Stuart McGill has been at the forefront of non-surgical approaches to addressing back pain for many years. His 2015 book “Back Mechanic: The Secrets to a Healthy Spine Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You” is a wonderfully accessible account of his methods and perspectives.

McGill spent 30 years as a professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo in Canada. His laboratory has become a renowned destination for everyday people as well as Olympic and professional athletes from around the world who are struggling with back pain.

He is the author of more than 300 scientific publications and 3 textbooks that address issues such as lumbar spine function and injury mechanisms, patient assessment, corrective exercise prescription, and performance training. McGill also consults for many medical management groups, governments, corporations, legal firms, and elite sports teams.

He has won numerous awards, including the prestigious Volvo Bioengineering Award for Low Back Pain Research.

He released his landmark text, “Low Back Disorders: Evidence-Based Prevention and Rehabilitation,” in 2002. It changed the way coaches, bodybuilders, athletes and non-athletes approached core training. His new book, “Back Mechanic,” is written for a lay audience and addresses common misperceptions about back pain. It also provides a step-by-step guide of the McGill Method to fix back pain.

Backfitpro.com is a web site also geared for a lay audience and is dedicated to providing access to evidence-based information and products that assist in preventing and rehabilitating back pain. Products featured on the website have been tested in McGill’s lab at the University of Waterloo.

McGill and his staff have also produced a video, “The Ultimate Back: Enhancing Performance,” that synthesizes McGill’s approaches for avoiding back injury and enhancing athletic and physical performance. It is available for purchase on Vimeo.

4:23: Stuart talks about how he was more interested in becoming a plumber than a scientist until his high school football coach asked him to return to school and earn his high school degree. That led him to college where he met professors who got him excited about mathematics and physics, and eventually the study of spine biomechanics.

7:00: Ken asks Stuart to describe the remarkable research atmosphere Stuart was able to create at the University of Waterloo.

8:08: Stuart explains that he did not go to medical school, but that he learned he had a unique talent of assessing and relating to people with back pain.

11:00: Ken shares his experience of back pain and traveling to Canada to visit Stuart as a patient, which prompts Stuart to describe his process of assessing people.

14:53: Dawn asks Stuart to talk about his motivation for writing “The Back Mechanic.”

19:53: Although back pain is the world’s leading cause of disability, Dawn asks Stuart why back pain is underappreciated by so many people in the medical community.

22:04: Stuart explains some of the most mechanisms for back injury and ways to prevent them.

26:22: Ken asks Stuart to talk about a study he did several years ago on firefighters with the Pensacola Fire Department.

30:36: Stuart talks about how heavy weightlifting will probably shorten the careers of modern golfers like Rory Mcllroy, and how the great golfers of old who had wonderful long careers – Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player – weren’t weightlifters.

33:53: Stuart talks about the great strikers in mixed martial arts and the UFC are the leaner ones who can unleash muscle. The same is true of the great sprinters, the great golfers, and the great home run hitters, who are the ones who can create a very brief muscle power pulse, and let it go.

34:33: Dawn asks Stuart about reports that the rate of back surgery in the U.S. is five times higher than in other developed countries.

39:31: Stuart provides an overview of the how to about a self-assessment of pain triggers.

46:29: Dawn asks Stuart to explain the McGill method to fixing back pain.

55:03: Ken asks about the technique of power breathing and the implications for spinal disability.

57:15: Ken mentions that he and Stuart are fans of kettlebells, and that power breathing is what a a person does when swinging a kettlebell. Ken asks Stuart to talk about the exercises that he sees as most beneficial with kettlebells.  Ken and Stuart discuss the relative benefits of kettlebell swings, farmer’s walks, and bottoms-up carries.

1:06:49: Stuart talks about measuring competitors in the World’s Strongest Man competition, the NFL, heavyweight UFC fighters, and then asks Ken to guess who had the strongest core Stuart had ever measured. Ken says it was probably a kettlebell dude like Pavel. Stuart confirms that yes it was Pavel Tsatsouline.

1:10:29: Dawn asks if it is true the spine is weaker and more vulnerable to injuries in the morning.

1:14:30: Stuart talks about sciatica, which is usually caused by narrowing of the discs and a little bit of arthritic activity in the vertebra.

1:18:35: Stuart talks about what he describes as silly stretches and exercises, which includes sit-ups and crunches.

1:21:19: Ken asks Stuart to run through the McGill Big Three exercises for spinal stability.

1:30:41: In American training culture, Stuart says there’s too much emphasis on time under the bar, and not enough emphasis on pushing heavy stuff around. He goes on to explain how pulling a slid is a tremendously strengthening and athletically enhancing activity.

1:37:35: Ken talks about friends who’ve sustained back injuries, and points out that was often after they had joined certain training programs focused on Olympic style lifts with high reps. She asks Stuart if he is seeing increased number of spinal injuries with the increased popularity of those type of training programs?

1:43:38: Dawns asks if there’s a direct correlation between back pain or injury and a person’s ability to brace.

1:45:29: Ken asks Stuart to comment on a 2016 study showing that taken as a whole young men today have much less grip strength than their fathers.

1:50:39: Stuart talks about the kinds of back injuries that are associated with sex and ways to mitigate spinal pain associated with sex.

1:52:02: Stuart talks about how his lab was the first to measure orgasm.

1:55:16: Ken and Dawn thank Stuart and sign off.

Visit backfitpro.com to learn more about the approaches and back pain exercises that can rehabilitate and prevent spine injury.

Apr 11 2017

1hr 57mins

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Rank #3: Episode 20: Dr. Alessio Fasano discusses the gut microbiome and how it affects our health

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When Alessio Fasano entered medical school at the University of Naples (Italy) School of Medicine, his goal was to eliminate childhood diarrhea. Working with a mentor who’d studied the physiology of the gut, Fasano decided to focus on the microorganisms that cause diarrhea. That opened up his world to specialize in overall gut health, and Fasano became a leading expert in celiac disease and gluten-related disorders.

Following medical school, Fasano spent three years at the Center for Vaccine Development in Baltimore, and later returned to the U.S. to pursue his career. Today the world-renowned gastroenterologist is chair of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition at Harvard Medical School and director of the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment. He is also the director of the Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Fasano was the lead researcher of a seminal 2003 study showing that 1 in 133 Americans have celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder characterized by gluten-induced damage to the small intestine. His book Gluten Freedom http://tinyurl.com/zdbcdkk has been hailed as “the groundbreaking roadmap to a gluten-free lifestyle.” He is also the author of “A Clinical Guide to Gluten-Related Disorders.” http://tinyurl.com/zbhme6j

His lectures at IHMC “The Gut is Not Like Las Vegas,” (November 2014) http://tinyurl.com/o83y8xz and “People Shall Not Live by Bread Alone: People Shall Not Live by Bread Alone” http://tinyurl.com/pcssk5j have gotten over 70,000 views on YouTube.

Fasano has been featured widely in media, such as NPR, CNN and Bloomberg News. In this episode of STEM-Talk, Fasano talks about his early life as a curious boy in Italy, with a scientist grandfather as his first mentor, the impassioned trajectory of his career, and the underlying importance of gut health in determining our overall health.

00:56: Dawn describes Fasano as “a leading light in the study of the microbiome.” Fifteen years ago, Fasano and his colleagues discovered the pathophysiology of celiac disease and role of the protein zonulin in causing it.

1:10: Ford cites growing evidence that the microbiome content of the intestinal tract influences our metabolism, stress tolerance, immune response, memory and cognitive performance.

2:56: Ford reads five-star iTunes review of STEM-Talk entitled “cognitive satiety:” “Never have all the lobes of your brain been so satisfied. Every episode is fascinating and beautifully orchestrated. The content is interesting and diverse. There’s no room for boredom. The double secret selection committee does a superb job of keeping the listeners educated, engaged and more intelligent with every minute. And the hosts have a linguistic seduction that you wish it would never end. I could listen to STEM-Talk for hours. Thank you, and please keep the talks coming.”

3:51: Dawn introduces Fasano as a world-renowned pediatric gastroenterologist and research scientist. He specializes in treating people with celiac disease, wheat and gluten sensitivities, as well as infants and children with difficult to treat gastro-intestinal problems.

5:15: Dawn welcomes Alessio and Ken to the interview.

5:37: Fasano talks about his childhood in Italy. He was raised largely by his grandfather, a retired physicist who had once worked in Enrico Fermi’s lab. During World War II, Fasano’s grandfather refused to move to Germany as Mussolini had requested, so he ended up teaching high school science.

6:26: “I remember vividly being with him in his lab. [That] sparked an interest in physics and science.”

7:03: Fasano’s initial focus in medical school was eliminating childhood diarrhea— “not a glamorous field to get into.” At that time, five million people died annually from diarrhea, 80 percent of them children.

9:08: On his medical school mentor’s suggestion, Fasano went to the Center for Vaccine development in Baltimore to study micro-organisms in the gut. His two-month term became two years. Afterwards, he went back to Italy for a year and a half, returning to the U.S. in 1993, where he has been ever since.

9:47: Ken points out that Fasano has said that, “Twenty-five hundred years ago, Hippocrates posited all disease begins in gut: emerging understanding of the interplay between gut microbiome, intestinal mucosa and immune and nervous systems seems to support this contention.”

10:05: “Hippocrates was so right, without having all the information that we have right now,” Fasano says.

11:14: Fasano says that his thirty years of studying the gut have boiled down to the past five years, with the emergence of “the perfect storm of knowledge” about the microbiome.

11:50: The intestinal mucosa, a 3,000 square feet interface, negotiates cross-talk between us as human beings, the ecosystem, and our interaction with the environment.

12:30: Besides digesting food, the gut is involved in a continuous discussion with our environment, regulating the friends and foes that enter. The gut is the organ with the most immune cells; it’s also considered the body’s second brain, and has even more neuronal cells than brain itself.

13:28: The gut is a 20-foot-long tube. The epithelial cells interact with various types of immune cells.

16:00: The nervous system cells coordinate the interaction between the immune and epithelial cells, sometimes through messenger cells.

17:17: “Imagine all this decision making,” Fasano says. The epithelial cells have sensors that see who is in the lumen: friends, or if it’s foes, “You have to prepare for war.”

17:50: Commercial break: STEM-Talk is an educational service of the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, a not-for-profit research lab pioneering ground-breaking technologies aimed at leveraging human cognition, perception, locomotion and resilience.

18:33: Recent information indicates that the microbiome develops in the womb during the last trimester of pregnancy, but the major imprinting happens in the birth canal. That is why full-term, vaginal births are best for healthy microbiome development. Then other things—breastfeeding, for example—should occur to ensure sustained microbiome health.

22:05: The immune system developed to fight micro-organisms.

22:52: The microbiome teaches the immune system to work in a child’s first 1,000 days. A good, balanced microbiome is one that teaches the immune system to set the bar high for infections.

23:45: An unbalanced microbiome in infancy may be caused by the Western diet, C-section delivery, and infections. These things teach the immune system to have a low threshold for infections, placing infants at risk for chronic inflammatory diseases later in adulthood.

24:50: Fasano comments on the Human Genome Project: As humans, we have 23,000 genes, most of which we share with other animals; 95 percent of our genes are identical to a mouse. Only 400 genes distinguish us from chimpanzees. Other species have many more genes: Worms, for example, have 75,000 genes.

26:07: What are the implications of our relatively shallow gene pool? “We were not supposed to be dominant creatures on earth,” Fasano says.

26:53: Fasano explains his piano player analogy: Our 23,000 genes are like piano keys. There is an infinite combination of notes. The piano player is the microbiome that decides, based on genetic cross-talk, what notes should be played and when—just as genes express or suppress their activities.

28:10: Whereas previously, we were told that having the genes to develop diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease, cancer, and multiple sclerosis determined our fate—that we would get those diseases—we now know that’s not true, Fasano says. “It all depends on our lifestyle; and how that affects our microbiome, which in turn affects which genes are turned on or off…. If I have the genes for Lou Gehrig’s disease, that does not mean I will get it. It depends on how I live my life.”

29:00: Until recently, we thought our disease destiny was determined by our piano player—assumed to be an outside. Now we understand that the piano player—our microbiome—is living inside of us.

29:57: Now the questions that we can ask are: What kind of player is there? What kind of music does he play? What kind of music is playing as we speak? “Doing mathematical modeling, we can predict if playing certain kind of music, you will end up with that kind of clinical outcome.”

30:48: “We cannot manipulate our genes, but we may eventually be able to manipulate our microbiome so we can keep ourselves healthy for a much longer period of time.” This is primary prevention; or precision medicine.

31:34: Ken comments: “This interaction between our genome and the microbiome is the part that I find most interesting and hopeful for the future. It explains the riddle of how a simple genome produces such a highly differentiated and complex animal; and opens up new pathways for medicine and human performance and resilience.”

32:10: “This is the best time to be in science,” Fasano says. “Technology and knowledge are moving so fast.”

33:18: “It’s up to us to keep [our microbiome] in a compatible, friendly discussion with the genome we inherited from our parents.” But the health of our microbiome also boils down to our lifestyle. “The way we live will dictate the destiny we have.”

34:54: Commercial break: STEM-Talk is an educational service of the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, a not-for-profit research lab pioneering ground-breaking technologies aimed at leveraging human cognition, perception, locomotion and resilience.

35:30: Two ingredients of auto-immune disease were once thought to be genes and environmental triggers that create inflammation. The question that no one could explain was: “How can these two worlds physically interact to make this happen?”

38:24: Then they stumbled upon zonulin, a protein modulating the permeability of tight junctures between cells in the digestive tract.

39:20: Now zonulin has been linked to a myriad of auto-immune and GI disease such as Crohn’s Disease, as well as multiple sclerosis, cancer, schizophrenia, and autism.

40:12: Larazotide acetate is a promising peptide that blocks zonulin. It is now in in a phase three clinical trial.

44:40: Zonulin negotiates the interaction with the environment when it’s at the forefront of the gut; it also modulates traffic between body compartments, including the blood brain barrier (BBB).

45:00: German scientists have linked the production of zonulin to more advanced stages of glioma; the more compromised the BBB is, the more zonulin is present.

45:30: The microbiome may have a role in autism, since kids with autism have GI upsets. They are trying to understand what the role of the microbiome is in that. Either the activated immune cells create inflammation in the brain; or the microbiome produces metabolites that have a direct effect on the brain.

46:40: The truth of today is the garbage of tomorrow. Science is refurbished every five years. “You need to put yourself in the discussion all the time,” Fasano says. “If you are not open-minded enough, you will go out of business.”

47:35: Fasano’s grandfather told him, “If you want immediate success, science is not your field.” Another attribute of a scientist is humility: you have to question yourself all the time. “Science is a constellation of failures with very few successes, and we live for those. How bored would we be if every experiment that we did was successful?”

49:38: Dawn relays a personal story about scientists’ dedication: As a post-doc, she had a sign in her office that a mentor had given her, which said: “Brick walls are there for a reason. They make you prove how badly you want something.”

50:06: “Science in Italy is a hobby today,” Fasano says. Italy invests less than three percent of its GDP in science. “There’s no way that Italy can keep apace with countries like the U.S. that consider science an investment. Bright people relocate to unleash their creativity and make a difference.”

51:36: He adds, “Italian science has the resources to be at forefront of the story.”

52:47: Fasano recently opened a research institute in his hometown of Salerno called the European Biomedical Research Institute. It is on the site of the first Western medical school, where the first medical school textbook was written; the first diploma to be a doctor was given; and the first female physician practiced.

55:40: This institute is mainly focused on nutritional health.

56:30: Fasano says his biggest adjustment to living in the U.S. has been lifestyle. “Here people live to work.” And of course, the food. “In the beginning I could not adjust to fast food. I am a strong proponent of slow food. Drive-ins in Italy are inconceivable.”

58:00: What he loves about living in the U.S.: “The sky’s is the limit in terms of realizing your potential.”

59:10: Ken wraps up: “We humans appear to be a kind of super organism. Humans and microbes have developed a co-dependency which affects our wellness, including the expression of our genes.”

59:46: Dawn and Ken sign off.

Sep 13 2016

1hr

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Rank #4: Episode 24: Doug McGuff talks about resistance training, myokines, strength and health

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One could say that Dr. Doug McGuff is one of the pioneers of BMX motocross bike racing in Texas. He built the state’s first race track, having gotten hooked on the sport as a teenager in the 1970s.

The sport also triggered a deeper interest in fitness. As McGuff tried strengthen his core for bike racing, he discovered Arthur Jones’ Nautilus training technique and bartered janitorial services for a Nautilus gym membership.

McGuff’s interest and aptitude for studying the body led him to pursue medicine at the University of Texas in San Antonio. He specialized in emergency medicine, was chief resident of emergency medicine at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock, and a staff physician at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Hospital in Ohio. McGuff is currently an ER physician with Blue Ridge Emergency Physicians in Seneca, South Carolina.

The other side of McGuff’s career is dedicated to fitness, or as he says—helping people never have to go to the ER. Realizing a lifetime dream, he opened up his own fitness facility in 1997 called Ultimate Exercise. The gym is dedicated to the type of high-intensity fitness training using the Super Slow protocol.

In this episode of STEM-Talk, McGuff talks about why this type of exercise is better for the body, safer, and able to prevent age-related conditions such as sarcopenia.

McGuff is the author of three books: “Body by Science: A Research-Based Program for Strength Training, Body-building and Complete Fitness in 12 Minutes a Week,” http://amzn.to/2fy7vKN (co-authored with John Little), “The Primal Prescription: Surviving the “Sick Care” Sinkhole,” http://amzn.to/2fLTBtl (co-authored with economist Robert Murphy), and “BMX Training: A Scientific Approach.” http://amzn.to/2fUhqPd

He is also featured in several YouTube videos on high-intensity training. His recent IHMC lecture, entitled “Strength Training for Health and Longevity,” is available at http://www.ihmc.us/lectures/20160929/.

2:03: Dawn reads an an iTunes 5-star review from “Guy who likes Chipotle,” which is entitled “Interesting and just complex enough.” “STEM-Talk does an amazing job of delivering high-level information on a variety of topics, without making it too complex to understand.”

4:21: Dawn introduces Doug and Ken.

4:47: McGuff says that as a young teen, shortly after getting interested in BMX bike racing, he started working out with his brother’s weights, which was transformational. “It is still the closest thing to magic or a miracle that I’ve ever experienced in my life.”

6:44: Also as a teen, Doug McGuff bartered janitorial services for a membership to a Nautilus gym, where he found a copy of a book by Nautilus founder Arthur Jones  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Jones_(inventor)) about training principles. “It was the first book I ever read cover to cover. To say that book changed the course of my life would be a massive understatement.”

8:13: During the summer of 1994, McGuff met Arthur Jones, who greatly influenced his thoughts on exercise resistance training.

12:00: McGuff went into ER medicine because “It was rare to find something that I felt that I had intrinsic talent in. I felt like I functioned very well in that environment.” His career has focused on two things: taking care of people who fall down and get hurt; and trying to prevent it from happening in the first place.

13:00: McGuff talks about being a pioneer of BMX in Texas, as he built the first track there and went back to racing in the late 90s and won the state championship. He also trained some world champion level BMX racers.

14:30: Now he characterizes himself as “a practicing physician so busy with the chronically sick and massively debilitated; the chasm between day to day life and actually thinking about prevention is such a wide chasm that it’s hard to imagine.”

15:00: “I would love to see the day where the commercial says, ‘Ask your doctor if diet and exercise are right for you….’ Instead of whatever pill of the day.”

15:44: McGuff notes the idea of physiologic headroom, which economist Arthur De Vany came up with. “Physiologic headroom is the difference between the least you can do and the most you can do.” See De Vany’s book, “The New Evolution Diet”: http://amzn.to/2ewDOJ8

17:50: “The better part of our lives, in terms of our functional ability, are much less than what they should be.”

18:45: McGuff says that high-intensity interval training is what appears to reverse the biomarkers of aging, according to the literature on the topic.

21:00: In McGuff’s book, “Body by Science,” (http://amzn.to/2fy7vKN), he presents the concept of Super Slow training: lifting and lowering weights very slowly. This protocol emerged out of Nautilus, after Arthur Jones commissioned a University of Florida research study on osteoporosis. Ken Hutchins, an employee of Arthur Jones, was the primary person who defined and popularized the Super Slow form of resistance training exercise.

22:40: The protocol applied to younger subjects resulted in similarly good results.

23:18: More important is the style and intent (of lifting weights). “If your intent is to as intensely and deeply fatigue the muscle as you can…if you start weight-lifting with as gradual a load as possible, and then you just try to lift and lower with high effort, during that initial phase, depriving yourself of initial momentum allows the speed to express itself organically.” In one person, that cadence might be 4 seconds up, 4 down; or 8 up; 8 down. In most people that ends up being 10 seconds up; 10 down.

25:03: Commercial break: STEM-Talk is an educational service of the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, a not-for-profit research lab pioneering ground-breaking technologies aimed at leveraging human cognition, perception, locomotion and resilience.

25:23: Ken talks about the importance of avoiding injury when exercising and posits that Super Slow should be good in this respect.

25:48: McGuff says that he opened his gym, Ultimate Exercise, in 1997. They average 100-120 workouts per week. “We’ve never injured anyone in the facility…. That gives some credit to a slow cadence protocol. You can still get hurt [during a slow cadence protocol] if you don’t observe good biomechanics.”

26:40: The mastermind of “congruent exercise” is Bill DeSimone (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_DeSimone), which is based on using biomechanics to prevent injury.

27:45: At his gym, McGuff tells his trainers: “train ‘em hard as hell, don’t injure anyone, give them adequate recovery.”

29:00: “When we talk about sarcopenia, the population has it in their head that it’s a natural consequence of aging. And it’s not. Sarcopenia is a natural consequence of aging with our modern Western lifestyle injected into the equation.” McGuff notes this did not happen in hunter gatherer societies. “That doesn’t mean modern tech cannot be exploited to leverage those evolutionary adaptations.”

30:10: Age-related sarcopenia occurs when there is atrophy in the type II muscle fibers. “When you recruit muscle to do work, that happens in an orderly and sequential function.” You start with lower-order muscles to do work. Finally, you recruit higher-order muscles, which produce a lot of force output, but they fatigue very quickly. The latter are hard to get at, so you have to produce fatigue in a disciplined fashion.

32:54: An elderly person loses balance because if you go off the vertical plane (not on bone and bone tower), the only way to right yourself is by activating very powerful muscles to correct that posture deficit. “They fall because they don’t have the fast-twitch IIB fibers to yank them back into corrective posture. That’s why they go down like a tree in the forest.”

34:00: McGuff defines exercise as protocolized strength training; disciplined and aimed at achieving a deep level of fatigue rapidly. You can’t stand more than 12-15 minutes of that intensity. You want the minimal effective dose.

35:07: “Most people think of exercise as directly causing the adaption. The exercise produces the stimulus; your body receives it and makes a physiologic adaption.”

35:40: “I make a clean distinction between exercise and activity.”

36:41: “Once you create this physiologic headroom, you want to use it. It’s like having a Ferrari and being restricted to the school zone. It just doesn’t work. That’s not a bad thing.”

37:30: McGuff talks about muscular failure, a term coined by Arthur Jones meaning lifting and lowering weight, and getting to a point where you are trying to lift weight, but it won’t go. The problem is that failure in and of itself does not necessarily define an adequate stimulus. The desired stimulus is a meaningful depth of fatigue, or a substantial reduction in one’s starting level of strength. In the gym, one may reach muscular failure in a particular exercise without reaching an adequate depth of fatigue.

41:25: Ken notes that the Super Slow protocol, as described in McGuff’s book, is performed exclusively on machines, and asks whether this training transfers to what are sometimes called “real world” functional movements and basic movement patterns (squat, hinge, push, pull, carry).

41:50: “When people talk about functional movements and movement patterns, I find that they are fairly ill-defined. Human movement in a functional sense is inherent to our physiology and anatomy. What is necessary for those to express themselves in real world applications is that you have to have a motor that is able to drive the movements of that appendage.”

43:00: “The notion that you have to recreate those functional movement patterns in the gym under load for those functional movement patterns to be expressed out of the gym is a little bit of a false construct. Some of those natural movement patterns, when done under load, are very joint incongruent.”

44:47: Ken and Doug note that confusing “sport” and “exercise” can be dangerous.

44:55: Dawn asks Doug about low intensity training as typically prescribed for the elderly.

45:15: Exercise recommendations for the elderly are often off-base. People making them don’t understand how to invoke high-intensity and low force at the same time. Being physically active at a low level of intensity is part of our evolutionary and biological background. If you get at those IIB fibers, that type of activity expresses itself organically.

46:40: What happens is that you carry out a type of long-term, low-intensity activity that says: This animal is carrying out chronic low-level activity. This becomes interpreted as a negative thing—the stimulus to lose type IIB muscle fibers rather than gain them. “In the long term, you’ve jettisoned one of largest glucose reservoirs in your body, and you have therefore undermined insulin sensitivity.” This accelerates sarcopenia.

47:20: Ken notes that one often sees this adaptation in marathon runners. McGuff, says, “That is why marathon and ultra-endurance athletes look cachexic … because they delivered a biological stimulus to their organism that says these type-IIB fibers are unnecessary for this activity and we need to get rid of them.”

48:12: Dawn asks about exercise while traveling and without good access to good equipment.

48:30: Doug, replies that “We’ve gotten the notion that weights are a necessary part of the equation, and they really aren’t. Through infimetrics, I can provide an intensity of workout that exceeds one with weights. It’s hard to describe in a podcast, but Google McGuff’s name and timed static contraction protocol or infimitric YouTube videos.

50:00: Ken notes that Blood flow restriction training, such as Kaatsu, increases localized IGF-1 levels and sensitivity via accumulation of metabolites, particularly lactate and H (+) and asks if McGuff thinks this type of training is useful.

51:53: Doug discusses blood-flow restriction training, which can produce equal hypertrophy and strength adaptions using a much lighter weight. The theory is that you are concentrating the by-products of metabolism that occur during exertion locally within the muscle, for example the entrapment of local IGF production.

52:46:  “I think it is of benefit from several standpoints, one is the fact that it requires less resistance to get an equal result — that increases the safety margin and increases the safety margin for extremely strong people.”

53:37: When you use a slower-cadence protocol, that creates a high degree of sustained muscular tension that produces vascular congestion within musculature that traps metabolites in the same way blood flow restriction does.

54:48: Ken says he’s had good results using blood flow restriction (using the Kaatsu system). He particularly appreciates blood flow restriction training for those with painful or compromised joints given the very light weights.  Also, hotels often have a very limited selection of relatively light weights, which are no problem with blood flow restriction.

55:18: Dawn asks whether electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) training might offer promise as a way to safely hit fast-twitch muscle in all age groups and whether McGuff has experience with EMS?

55:40: Doug discusses his experience with EMS and thinks it does let you hit the fast twitch fibers.

57:07: When you lose motor units, body starts to disconnect enervation of motor units.

57:52: Elderly with sarcopenia also have deconstructed this neuro-motor connection to higher-order motor units. “Where EMS is useful as a therapeutic modality is being able to activate type IIB motor units at the end of the set, so when they reach fatigue, that’s not fatigue like a younger person who still has that connection intact. You could invoke EMS at the end of the set to wake back up those type II motor units. The enervation of those motor units wakes up as well.” He says this is a “stop-gap measure to rehabilitate the enervation of higher-order motor units.

58:55: Commercial break: STEM-Talk is an educational service of the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, a not-for-profit research lab pioneering ground-breaking technologies aimed at leveraging human cognition, perception, locomotion and resilience.

 59:20: Ken mentions that Brian Caulfied at University College Dublin has been doing interesting and important work on EMS in both athletic populations and older cohort groups.

1:00:00: Ken says he’s optimistic about the future of EMS as new companies, such as PowerDot are offering systems that run on smart phones, etc.

1:00:39: Doug notes that people often “conflate athleticism and health.”

1:02:26: Ken notes that myokines have both local actions within the muscle tissue but also hormone like effects that target distant organs.  He asks McGuff to discuss the role of myokines in exercise and the adaptations that occur as a result.

1:03:00: Resistance training is much greater than the sum of its parts.

1:04:30: Skeletal muscle is not just a tissue that produces movement. The muscle is the biggest and most active endocrine organ in our body; there’s a whole host of myokines—probably only of which a handful have been discovered. They are signaling locally and remotely—skin, hair, nervous tissue, cardiovascular system.

1:05:27: “The signals are going everywhere, and very few of them have been delineated thus far…. but the health benefits are becoming more and more obvious.”

1:05:46: The cytokines released by muscles have profound anti-inflammatory effects: they are the antithesis of metabolic syndrome and have anti-neoplastic effects. They are protective and reversive of neoplastic changes. “There’s a treasure trove there.”

1:06:30: Dawn asks about the role of myokines in tumor growth/suppression.

1:08:30: Doug says myokines have been found to arrest tumorigenesis for different types of cancer.

1:09:20: Different myokines are invoked by different forms and intensities of exercise.

1:10:35: Dawn asks how insulin sensitivity influences the production and sensitivity of myokines and Doug discusses their interaction.

1:12:11: Ken observed that recently the ketone body acetoacetate has been shown (in an animal model) to serve as a signaling metabolite in mediating muscle cell function and growth.   Specifically, acetoacetate potentiated the stimulatory effect of IGF1 on muscle cell proliferation and antagonized the inhibitory effect of myostatin. Ken asks McGuff whether he sees a role for endogenous (or exogenous) ketone bodies in augmenting myokine-induced hypertrophy.

1:12:47: “The answer is yeah, I think so.  It is just now becoming evident that those two operate by a similar mechanism.” Myostatin is a myokine that acts as a negative regulator of muscle growth.

1:14:00: With a sedentary lifestyle you can develop an overexpression of myostatin, one of the players in sarcopenia. It is upregulated in HIV, and certain cancer cells involved in cachexia.

1:14:18: “Acetoacetate has been shown to blunt its (myostatin) effect.”

1:15:10: Ketosis is when food supply is dwindling, and you tend to hunt and gather. The highest levels of physical output occur during hunting and gathering; it seems natural that ketosis and high level muscular activity would tend to occur/run in tandem. Those two things are running on parallel tracks biochemically.

1:16:17: Ken comments that both exercise induced myokines and ketone bodies appear to inhibit myostatin … yet pharma has spent decades looking for a safe and effective myostatin inhibitor.

1:17:00: McGuff refers to the Simon Melov paper which he found that 196 genes are expressed differently in youth and the elderly; they found an extensive reversal (back to their youthful levels) of gene expression in the elderly after physical training. Link to paper: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0000465

1:19:42: Dawn asks Doug about his thoughts on nutrition and to what extent does he see nutrition playing a role in skeletal muscle adaptation to exercise?

1:20:10: McGuff is a proponent of the Paleo diet: “You can never exercise your way out of a bad diet.”

1:22:28: Ken and Doug discuss how obesity is a recent phenomenon and that poor nutrition is at the heart of the problem.

1:28:08: Doug talks about his book, “The Primal Prescription: Surviving the Sick Care Sinkhole,” co-authored with economist Robert Murphy (http://amzn.to/2fLTBtl). It talks about the ER as the de facto safety net in the American healthcare system.

1:31:08: “[Writing the book] has given me a front-row seat to decay and collapse of medical system in this country; how it happened; and how recent attempts to address through ACA have put it on steroids, and made the medical system impossible to navigate.”

1:33:10: Dawn closes out the interview. She mentions McGuff’s lecture, entitled “Strength Training for Health and Longevity,” which can be viewed at: http://www.ihmc.us/lectures/20160929/.

1:34:20: Dawn and Ken sign off.

Nov 08 2016

1hr 34mins

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Rank #5: Episode 50: Ken Ford talks about ketosis, optimizing exercise, and the future direction of science, technology, and culture

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Today’s episode features the second of Dawn Kernagis’ two-part interview with her STEM-Talk co-host and IHMC Director Ken Ford. This episode marks a milestone for STEM-Talk. It’s our 50th episode and follows Ken’s formal induction into the Florida Inventor’s Hall of Fame.

In part one of Dawn’s interview, listeners learned about Ken’s childhood and his years as a rock and roll promoter back in the ‘70s. Ken even shared an interesting story about how he went from being a philosophy major to a computer scientist. He also talked about his work in AI and the creation of IHMC and the pioneering work underway at the institute. If you missed episode 49, be sure to check it out.

Part two of Ken’s interview focuses more on his research and personal experience with the ketogenic diet, ketone esters, exercise and ways to extend health span and perhaps longevity. Dawn and Ken also discuss the nature of technical progress

As listeners learned in part one, Ken has a varied background. He is a co-founder of IHMC, which has grown into one of the nation’s premier research organizations with world-class scientists and engineers investigating a broad range of topics.

He also is the author of hundreds of scientific papers and six books. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Tulane University. He is a Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, a charter Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, and a member of the Association for Computing Machinery, the IEEE Computer Society, and the National Association of Scholars.

In 2012, Tulane University named Ford its Outstanding Alumnus in the School of Science and Engineering. The Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence named Dr. Ford the recipient of the 2015 Distinguished Service Award. Also in 2015, Dr. Ford was elected as Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

In January 1997, Dr. Ford was asked by NASA to develop and direct its new Center of Excellence in Information Technology at the Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, where he also served as Associate Center Director. In July 1999, Dr. Ford was awarded the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal. That same year, Ford returned to private life in Florida and to IHMC.

In October 2002, President George W. Bush nominated Dr. Ford to serve on the National Science Board (NSB). In 2005, Dr. Ford was appointed and sworn in as a member of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board. In 2007, he became a member of the NASA Advisory Council and on October 16, 2008, Dr. Ford was named as chairman – a capacity in which he served until October 201l.

In August 2010, Dr. Ford was awarded NASA’s Distinguished Public Service Medal – the highest honor the agency confers. In February 2012, Dr. Ford was named to a two-year term on the Defense Science Board and in 2013, he became a member of the Advanced Technology Board which supports the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Links:

IHMC website:
http://www.ihmc.us

Ken Ford web page:
http://www.ihmc.us/groups/kford/

Florida Inventors Hall of Fame website:
http://www.floridainvents.org

Outside magazine story on Ken Ford and ketogenic diet:
https://www.outsideonline.com/2113406/high-carb-low-fat-ketone-diet

Blood Flow Restriction Device. 15% discount code: IHMC
https://www.gobstrong.com/what-is-b-strong/

BhB Ketone Ester
https://hvmn.com

Powerdot Muscle Stimulator
https://www.powerdot.com/products/powerdot-muscle-stimulator

Papers:

Suppression of Oxidative Stress by b-Hydroxybutyrate, an Endogenous Histone Deacetylase Inhibitor
http://www.ihmc.us/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Verdin_2013.pdf

Ketone Bodies as Signaling Metabolites
http://www.ihmc.us/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/TEM-Ketone-bodies-as-signaling-metabolites-2014.pdf

Ketogenic Diet Reduces Midlife Mortality and Improves Memory in Aging Mice
http://www.ihmc.us/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Verdin-Ketogenic-Mouse-Longevity-Cell-Metab-9-17-1.pdf

A Ketogenic Diet Extends Longevity and Healthspan in Adult Mice
http://www.ihmc.us/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Ramsey-Mouse-Longevity-Cell-Metab-9-17.pdf

Ketone Bodies Mimic the Life Span Extending Properties of Caloric Restriction
http://www.ihmc.us/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Ketone-bodies-mimic-lifespan-extending-properties-of-CR_Veech_Review_2017.pdf

Show notes:

7:06: Dawn begins part two of her interview with Ken by pointing out that some of the work IHMC is doing in terms of human performance is focused on nutritional approaches, including ketogenic diets and ketone esters. Dawn mentions that Ken was an early adopter of the ketogenic diet and that some people even refer to him as “the keto guy.” She then asks him when he first embraced a ketogenic diet and what attracted him to it.

8:06:  Ken Talks about his long experience with the ketogenic diet and its effect on body composition.

10:30: Ken discusses how he became interested in ketone esters.

12:34: Dawn asks about research that seems to show that elevated levels of circulating ketone bodies have the potential to protect people from some of the diseases of aging.

12:47:  Ken discusses healthspan, lifespan, and bending the aging curve.

14:04:  Ken notes that, in his view, it should not be surprising that shifting something as fundamental as the fuel substrate for our metabolism would have widespread effects.

14:19:  Ken talks about the epidemic of insulin resistance, diabetes, and obesity.

15:20:  Dawn asks Ken to discuss the relatively newly discovered effects of ketone bodies which go well beyond their well-appreciated metabolic roles … and that might have various anti-aging effects.

16:59:  Ken asserts that many of the most exciting effects of ketones are not only those arising from their role as an energy source but also that they play critically important signaling functions.  Ken talks about the research showing that the ketone bodies are HDAC inhibitors and seem to link environmental cues, such as diet, to the regulation of aging.

17:23:  Ken explains how HDACs inhibit BDNF and as mentioned above, ketones inhibit HDACs … thereby increasing BDNF.

18:20: Ken discusses two new papers showing a substantial extension of healthspan and lifespan in adult mice.

20:57: Dawn asks about the effect of the ketogenic diet on the maintenance of muscle and strength as people age.

24:48:  Dawn asks Ken about the ketogenic diet and IGF-1.

26:45:  Dawn notes that stem cells become less effective with age and asks about the implications of this phenomenon for maintenance of muscle.

27:37: Ken explains what the ketogenic diet is.

29:48: Dawn points out the Google search term “ketogenic diet” now outnumbers searches for Paleo diets. She asks Ken if he thought this would be the case back in 2006 when he first returned to a ketogenic diet.

31:18: Dawn asks Ken about what he sees as the primary benefit of blood-flow restriction training and how he uses it in his training.

34:25: Dawn asks Ken about what other exercise methods he employs in his training to optimize muscle mass and minimize potential injury.

34:38:  Ken mentions electrical muscle stimulation (PowerDot), kettlebells, resistance training, Tabata sessions, and hiking in Wyoming and Maine.

35:37:  Ken discusses hierarchical sets as employed in resistance training.

36:27:  Dawn ask Ken if he “goes to failure” when engaged in resistance training.

37:13:  Dawn asks Ken if has any thoughts on eccentric movements when engaged in resistance training.

38:50:  Dawn asks Ken about NASA funded research at IHMC, led by Peter Neuhaus, aimed at developing technology to enable exercise devices for use on long-duration deep space missions.

39:41: Dawn mentions that when she first met Ken that she was doing research on apolipoprotein E in a neurocritical care laboratory. She asks Ken for his take on APOE in athletics and other approaches when it comes to harnessing people’s genetic information for optimized health.

42:03: Dawn asks Ken to describe a typical day and a typical week in the life of Ken Ford, including what his diet looks like and what he typically eats for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

44:03: Dawn wonders how many expressos, which Ken refers to as the elixir of the mind, he drinks in a day.

45:06: Dawn asks Ken about his time at NASA’s Ames Research Center.

46:06:  She asks Ken to talk about his experience on the National Science Board and whether there were any stories he could share.

48:48:  Dawn asks Ken to discuss his service on the NASA Advisory Council.

50:04: Dawn mentions that Ken has been a member of the National Science Board, NASA Advisory Council, Air Force Science Advisory Board, the Advanced Technology Board for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the Defense Science Board. She asks Ken for his takeaways from serving on those boards and councils.

52:10:  Dawn notes that during Apollo, NASA annually accounted for roughly 4% of Federal spending and asks Ken if he knows the percentage currently?

52:55:  Ken laments that public service is becoming increasingly unpleasant … and that the best people invariably leave as a result.

54:05: Dawn asks Ken to talk about the accelerating rate of technological progress and its effects on society and the individual.

54:25:  Ken distinguishes between “technological change” and “progress.”

57:11:  Dawn asks, if taken from a purely technological perspective, are we not advancing faster than ever before?

1:00:54: Dawn plays an audio clip of Ken talking about the zombie apocalypse, which she describes as one of her favorite stories, and asks him to expand upon on it.

1:04:20: Dawn thanks Ken for sitting down for an interview.

Nov 07 2017

1hr 6mins

Play

Rank #6: Episode 82: Stu Phillips discusses the importance of dietary protein and its role in muscle

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Our guest today Dr. Stuart Phillips, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, who is best known for his research into muscle health and the benefits of dietary protein.

Stu is the director of the McMaster Physical Activity Centre of Excellence, a state-of-the-art exercise research and training center. It is devoted to studying and improving the health and well-being of older adults as well as people with chronic diseases and disabilities.

In addition to his work in the kinesiology department at McMaster, Stu is adjunct professor in the university’s School of Medicine. He is a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and the American College of Nutrition. He received the New Investigator Award from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, the Ontario Premier’s Research Excellence Award, and the Young Investigator Award from Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology.

 In today’s interview we discuss:

 [00:08:19] Dawn introduces the importance of dietary protein and its role in muscle health, and tissue regeneration more generally, which makes it one of the only macro nutrients we need on a daily basis.

[00:10:59] A recent study (2017) showed that whole eggs promoted a greater amount of muscle protein synthesis than egg whites, suggesting that there may be benefits to the extra nutrients found in the egg yolk.

[00:12:53] Why Stu believes the recommended daily allowance for protein is too low.

[00:14:06] The differences between animal and plant-based protein.

[00:16:31] The phenomenon of muscle synthesis (anabolism) and catabolism.

[00:17:54] Highlights of the recent findings coming out of Kevin Tipton’s group which indicates that the dose-response relationship may depend on the amount of muscle tissue that was recruited during exercise, with the ingestion of 40 g protein further increasing muscle protein.

[00:20:43]A 2013 paper from Stu’s group titled, “Dose-dependent responses of myofibrillar protein synthesis with beef ingestion are enhanced with resistance exercise in middle-aged men.”

[00:27:52] Stu’s thoughts on the recommendation of pre-sleep protein feeding.

[00:37:52] An overview of the Physical Activity Centre of Excellence, a state-of-the-art, exercise research and training lab at McMaster.

[00:43:37] The importance of maintaining healthy functional muscle mass and function as we move into middle and later life.

[00:46:56] Stu’s paper,  “Muscle Disuse as a Pivotal Problem in Sarcopenia-Related Muscle Loss and Dysfunction.”

[00:50:25] The need to add more protein to our diets as we get older, which is something that Dr. Valter Longo discussed on episode 64 of STEM-Talk.

[00:56:24 How fasting affects muscle protein turnover, which were topics covered in episode 7 of STEM-Talk, an interview with Mark Mattson, and episode 79, which was an interview with Satchin Panda, author of the “The Circadian Code.”

[00:57:32] Whether a ketogenic diet with sufficient protein would in any way be detrimental to muscle mass.

[01:05:47] Stu’s thoughts on a study that was conducted on behalf of the American College of Sports Medicine that found supplementation with HMB failed to enhance body composition to a greater extent than a placebo.

Show notes

[0:02:51] Stu talks about being born in the UK but growing up in Canada.

[00:03:09] Dawn asks about Stu’s passions for all kinds of sports as a kid.

[00:03:27] Stu recalls his high school science teacher, who was responsible for getting him interested in biology and chemistry.

[00:03:44] Dawn asks what led Stu to choose McMaster University after high school.

[00:04:19] Ken brings up that Stu was captain of the Ruby team his senior year, and while it looked as though he was headed to a great season, things didn’t turn out as planned. He asks how that season led to Stu’s decision to focus on nutritional biochemistry.

[00:05:16] Stu explains how he ended up at Waterloo University to work on a doctorate in physiology.

[00:06:01] Dawn asks Stu why he headed off to Texas after graduating from Waterloo.

[00:06:36] Dawn asks if it is true that after three years in Texas, Stu moved back to Canada to get married.

[00:07:18] Stu talks about why he went back to McMasters to study protein, exercise, and muscle synthetic versus catabolic dynamics, among other things.

[00:08:19] Dawn asks how Stu first became interested in the process by which protein plays a role in regenerating muscle, making it one of the only macro nutrients we need on a daily basis, and to give listeners an overview on the importance of dietary protein.

[00:09:49] Dawn asks Stu how much of his work has focused on muscle- protein turnover and if changes in muscle-protein turnover directly correlate with changes in muscle growth.

[00:10:59] Ken mentions that many protein-intervention studies use supplementation in the form of whey, which has a clear benefit from a muscle standpoint given its high leucine content and convenience.  He goes on to mention, however, that some researchers are starting to look at interventions with whole food protein. A recent study (2017) showed that whole eggs promoted a greater amount of muscle protein synthesis than egg whites, suggesting that there may be benefits to the extra nutrients found in the egg yolk.Understanding this, Ken asks if it is possible that by taking an isolated supplement like whey, we are missing out on a spectrum of other nutrients found in protein rich whole foods?

[00:12:53] Stu explains why he believes that the recommended daily allowance for protein is too low.

[00:14:06] Dawn mentions that she is a vegetarian, and by that token has to be more creative about making sure she gets enough protein. She asks Stu to explain the differences between animal and plant-based protein.

[00:15:20] Ken asks if it might be helpful for vegans or vegetarians to supplement with essential amino acids, provided that they are vegan approved.

[00:16:31] Dawn asks Stu to elaborate on the phenomenon of muscle synthesis and catabolism, which are like a sinusoidal wave going from anabolism to catabolism. Over a 24-hour period, one may see more anabolism, then have a net improvement in muscle mass, and vice versa.

[00:17:54] The currently accepted amount of protein required to achieve maximal stimulation of myofibrillar protein synthesis (MPS) following resistance exercise is 20–25 g. Ken asks Stu to discuss the recent findings coming out of Kevin Tipton’s group which indicates that the dose-response relationship may depend on the amount of muscle tissue that was recruited during exercise, with the ingestion of 40 g protein further increasing muscle protein.

[00:20:43] Dawn explains that aging impairs the sensitivity of skeletal muscle to anabolic stimuli, such as amino acids and resistance exercise. She goes on to bring up a 2013 paper from Stu’s group which reported that, in the context of resistance exercise, “it appears that the MPS “machinery” in older muscles is less responsive to low and modest doses of protein.  The key finding from this study being that in middle-aged men, ingestion of beef promotes a dose–response relation for myofibrillar MPS, with the greatest response occurring with ingestion of 170 g of beef … roughly 6 oz containing 36 g of protein.

[00:22:45] Ken asks if given the leucine oxidation responses Stu reported, does it seem reasonable that approximately 170 g of beef is the maximally effective dose, after which additional protein would fail to increase MPS.

[00:24:29] Stu discusses the issue of “protein timing” in relation to a bout of resistance training and total protein intake over the course of the day.

[00:27:52] Multiple studies coming from Van Loon’s lab suggesting that 40 g of protein ingested before sleep can be beneficial for muscle protein synthesis, especially in older individuals.While consuming protein before bed may provide some benefits, it may also be detrimental from a circadian rhythm perspective. Forty g of protein equates to 7 eggs or 5 cups of milk or a substantial steak. Given the importance of sleep to anabolic and other processes, Ken asks Stu for his thoughts on the recommendation of pre-sleep protein feeding.

[00:30:15] Ken asks if the observed benefit of pre-sleep protein could be driven more by topping up of the day’s total protein consumption, or if the timing of protein right before bed matters?

[00:31:57] Ken asks for Stu’s thoughts on a 2017 paper published by Robert Wolfe in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Medicine, which concluded that the claim that the consumption of dietary BCAAs stimulates muscle protein synthesis or produces an anabolic response in humans is unwarranted.

[00:37:52] Stu gives a brief overview of the Physical Activity Centre of Excellence, more popularly known as the PACE lab, a state-of-the-art, exercise research and training center at McMaster.

[00:40:04] Ken brings up that loss of muscle mass, strength, and quality starts earlier in life than many realize, especially in more sedentary individuals, while also accelerating as people age. He asks if there are any warning signs people need to look out for.

[00:43:37] Dawn asks why is it so important to maintain healthy functional muscle mass and function as we move into middle and later life.

[00:43:37] Dawn asks if sarcopenia progresses the same way in westernized vs non-westernized populations?

[00:46:56]Stu talks about one of his papers published in the Journal of Frailty and Aging titled, “Muscle Disuse as a Pivotal Problem in Sarcopenia-Related Muscle Loss and Dysfunction.”

[00:48:34] Stu talks about anabolic resistance and whether there is compelling evidence to support low-protein intake for optimal healthspan and longevity.

[00:50:25] Stu talks about the need to add more protein to our diets as we get older, which is something that Dr. Valter Longo discussed on episode 64 of STEM-Talk.

[00:54:33] Stu talks about the myth that too much protein creates kidney damage.

[00:56:24] Mark Mattson discussed intermittent fasting in Episode 7 of STEM-Talk.  More recently, in episode 79, Satchin Panda of the Salk Institute talked about time-restricting eating. Stu gives his thoughts on how fasting affects muscle protein turnover.

[00:57:32] Ken asks if a ketogenic diet with sufficient protein would in any way be detrimental to muscle mass.

[01:02:13] Dawn brings up that physical inactivity impairs insulin sensitivity and that it is exacerbated with aging. A paper Stu and his colleagues produced examined the impact of two weeks of acute inactivity and recovery on glycemic control, and integrated rates of muscle protein synthesis, in older men and women.

[01:04:00] Stu discusses why most of the research on protein has been in relation to males.

[01:05:47] Stu discusses a study that was conducted on behalf of the American College of Sports Medicine that found supplementation with HMB failed to enhance body composition to a greater extent than placebo.

[01:10:13] Dawn asks if Stu had a $20-mllion budget and could undertake any research project without limitation, what would it be and why?

[01:13:05] Dawn ends the interview by mentioning that Stu had to give up rugby in his 40s. She asks what his exercise routine looks like now in his middle age, and if he still plays any sports.

Links:

Stuart Phillips McMaster faculty page

McMaster Physical Activity Centre of Excellence

Learn more about IHMC

STEM-Talk homepage

Ken Ford bio

Dawn Kernagis bio

Feb 05 2019

1hr 16mins

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Rank #7: Episode 62: Keith Baar talks about muscle and explains mTOR, PGC-1a, dystrophin, and the benefits of chocolate

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Today’s episode is the first of a two-part interview with Dr. Keith Baar, the head of the Functional Molecular Biology Laboratory in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior at the University of California, Davis.

In his capacity as a researcher, Keith has made fundamental discoveries on how muscle grows bigger, stronger, and more fatigue resistant. He is a renowned scientist in the emerging field of molecular exercise physiology, and is leading a team of researchers attempting to develop ways to improve muscle, tendon and ligament function.

Part one of our interview features our conversation with Keith about his background and his time time in the lab of John Holloszy, who is known as the father of exercise research in the United States.

Episode 63 of STEM-Talk has Dawn and Ken talking to Keith about his most recent research, which is looking at how to determine the best way to train, as well as what types of foods compliment training to decrease tendon and ligament injury and accelerate return to play. This work has the potential to improve muscle function and people’s quality of life, especially as they age. Ken and Dawn also have a conversation with Keith about the research he is doing on a ketogenic diet and its potential to reduce cancer rates and improve cognition.

Links:

UC Davis physiology department bio:

https://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/physiology/faculty/baar.html

UC Davis biology department bio”

https://biology.ucdavis.edu/people/keith-baar

Functional Molecular Biology Lab website:

http://www.fmblab.com

Molecular brakes regulating mTORC1 activation in skeletal muscle paper:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4137116/

Age-related Differences in Dystrophin article:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27382038

Show notes:

3:14: Dawn opens the interview by mentioning that Keith grew up in Canada, and asks what he was like as a child.

4:02: Dawn asks if Keith was interested in science as a kid.

4:53: Dawn comments that after high school, Keith came to the U.S. to attend the University of Michigan, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology. She Keith if Michigan was where he first became interested in the science of how muscles work.

7:54: Dawn asks Keith if he played any sports at Michigan.

8:34: Dawn asks what lead Keith to attend the University of California, Berkeley to pursue a master’s degree in human biophysics.

9:39: Dawn mentions that after his time at Berkeley, Keith returned to the Midwest to attend the University of Illinois where he received his doctorate in physiology and biophysics. She asks why he decided on Illinois for his doctoral work.

11:12: Ken mentions that Keith’s Ph.D. work focused on the effect of resistance exercise on specific molecular markers that are related to muscle growth. He goes on to say that Keith identified that mTOR complex 1 was activated in response to resistance exercise and that the activation was proportional to the load across the muscle. He asks Keith to talk about this work and its significance.

16:20: Ken comments how surprising that discovery must have been.

17:33: Ken asks Keith to explain the two basic ways of activating mTORC1 in skeletal muscle. Ken also asks whether these two are merely additive, or if together they elicit a greater muscle protein response than either would independently.

29:49: Dawn mentions that after Illinois, Keith went to work in the lab of John Holloszy at Washington University in St. Louis, a professor of medicine who is known as the father of exercise research in the United States. Dawn asks if is Holloszy is the one who discovered that when people do endurance exercise that their muscles accumulate more mitochondria.

32:24: Ken asks about the role of PGC-1a.

38:43: Ken comments that we know most sports require a combination of strength and endurance for optimal performance, bringing up the topic of concurrent training.

48:02: Ken asks if we know which form of AMPK is activated by things such as Metformin or the ketogenic diet.

49:24: Dawn comments that Keith eventually accepted a position at Michigan where he worked with Bob Denis, who figured out how to engineer muscles as well as ligaments. She asks Keith to share some things about the research they did together.

50:41: Dawn mentions that after Michigan, Keith accepted a position at the University of Dundee in Scotland, where he worked for 5 years. Dawn asks what that experience was like.

55:20: Ken mentions that from looking at the literature, it seems as though Keith discovered that the non-contractile portion of the muscle plays a key role in the transfer of force, and that this is nearly as important as the size of the muscle fiber itself. He asks Keith to elaborate on this finding.

58:45: Ken asks if Keith’s work has elucidated a potential countermeasure to the loss of dystrophin, for both the aging population and cancer patients. Keith then talks about research at the University of California, San Diego, that has shown the beneficial effects epicatechin, a flavanol in dark chocolate.

1:00:37: Ken mentions that some athletes are using Transdermal Epicatechin, and asks about the efficacy of such practice.

1:01:54: Interview ends.

Apr 24 2018

1hr 3mins

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Rank #8: Episode 68: Steve Anton talks about diet, exercise, intermittent fasting and lifestyle interventions to improve health

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What’s the best way to eat and the right way to exercise to ensure a healthy lifespan? Our guest today is Dr. Stephen Anton, a psychologist who has spent his career researching how lifestyle factors can influence not only obesity, but also cardiovascular disease and other metabolic conditions.

Steve is an associate professor and the chief of the Clinical Research Division in the Department of Aging and Geriatric Research at the University of Florida. In today’s episode, we talk to Steve about his work in developing lifestyle interventions designed to modify people’s eating and exercise behaviors in an effort to improve their healthspan and lifespan.

One of Steve’s best-known papers appeared in the Obesity Journal titled “Flipping the Metabolic Switch.” The study looked at intermittent fasting and suggested that the metabolic switch into ketosis represents an evolutionary conserved trigger point that has the potential to improve body composition in overweight individuals.

Topics we cover in today’s interview include:

  • The increasing prevalence of metabolic syndrome associated with aging.
  • Why so many hospital health and wellness programs fail.
  • How fasting and intermittent energy restriction promote autophagy.
  • The relationship between muscle quality, body fat and health.
  • How age-related loss of muscle function and mass leads to sarcopenia.
  • Effects, risks and benefits of testosterone supplementation in older men.
  • Optimal exercise methods for long-term health.
  • Therapeutic approaches that potentially can help avert systemic inflammation associated with aging.
  • Steve’s study that looked at the effects of popular diets on weight loss.
  • Controversies surrounded calorie restriction as a strategy to enhance longevity.

Show notes:

2:30: Steve talks about growing up in Tampa and playing sports as a kid.

3:53: Dawn asks Steve about his decision to attend Florida State after high school.

4:17: Dawn comments on how Steve bounced between medicine, business, and psychology before finally deciding to major in psychology. She asks if having two parents who were also psychologists played a role in his decision.

5:24: Ken asks about Steven’s experience pursuing his Ph.D. at the University of Florida.

6:28: Dawn brings up that Steve became a fellow of behavioral medicine at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La. She mentions that Pennington has one of the nation’s premier programs in obesity metabolism and diabetes. She asks if that was the reason he decided on Pennington.

9:33: Dawn asks what prompted Steve to return to the University of Florida.

10:08: Ken asks what is driving the increased prevalence of metabolic syndrome that’s associated with advanced age.

11:19: Dawn brings up how hospitals have tried to promote health and wellness programs for decades, but notes how hospitals are designed to treat people who are sick and injured rather than delivering lifestyle interventions. She asks if Steve can give a summary of what he has learned in looking at ways to deliver interventions.

13:23: Dawn mentions that the traditional treatment and management approaches for type 2 diabetes are relatively ineffective and only reverse the disease in about one percent of the cases.

15:02: Ken mentions that Jeff Volek, STEM-Talk Guest on episode 43, has been a pioneer in researching type 2 diabetes.

16:49: Dawn points out that she and Ken had an in-depth conversation with Dr. Mark Matson about autophagy on episode seven of STEM-Talk. Matson also discussed fasting, and intermittent energy restriction and how it promotes autophagy, which is often described as the body’s innate recycling system. Dawn asks if Steve can elaborate a little on this process.

18:02: Dawn mentions that Steve has written about muscle quality and body composition and the risk of metabolic diseases and functional decline. She asks about the relationship between muscle quality, body fat and health.

19:17: Dawn asks if Steve can talk about how the age-related loss of muscle function and mass often lead to sarcopenia, and how this condition effects the individual and society.

20:31: Ken asks for Steve’s thoughts on the group of people who could be classified as having “pre-sarcopenia.” Ken mentions his interest in this group given that dietary and exercise intervention can still make a huge difference in their lives.

21:35: Dawn brings up the point of how testosterone tends to decline as men age, which is associated with a number of adverse health problems, including: cardiovascular and metabolic disease, sexual dysfunction, and mood disorders. Dawn asks about Steve’s study on the effects of testosterone supplementation in older men, and about the risks and benefits of supplementation.

24:12: Dawn asks if Steve can describe the difference between muscle quality and quantity, and if there is an easy way we can track and measure muscle quality.

25:28: Ken asks how we should be thinking about pharmaceutical therapies in these conditions as the field goes forward; given that so many new pharmaceuticals are in various stages of development, and that many of the currently available pharmaceutical approaches to age-related muscle loss have, to date, been effective at increasing muscle mass but not necessarily function.

26:30: Dawn asks what exercise methods Steve recommends for optimal, long-term health.

27:57: Dawn mentions that in 2016 a team of Spanish and Italian researchers published an article in the prestigious journal, Nature, showing that autophagy is a critical regulator of stem-cell fate and has implications for fostering muscle regeneration and sarcopenia as well as other disorders. She goes on to mention that autophagy typically declines with age, and this may be because stem cells start to lose their “steminess,” and become senescent (the loss of a cell’s power of division and growth). She goes on to ask about fasting and ketogenic diets, and how both interventions increase autophagy and could account for the common benefits we see in both of those interventions.

29:51: Dawn asks about the emerging concept of normal-weight obesity.

31:07: Ken asks about the consequences and challenges of sarcopenic obesity.

33:20: Dawn mentions that a growing body of evidence strongly indicates that chronic systemic low-grade inflammation plays a significant role in contributing to sarcopenia and associated functional decline. She goes on to say that preserving muscle and mobility is essential to maintaining a high quality of life as we age. She asks Steve what promising therapeutic approaches are out there that can potentially help avert systemic inflammation that’s associated with aging.

34:41: Dawn asks what the connection is between body fat and inflammation.

35:52: Dawn asks about the phenomenon that inflammation seems to be central to many lifestyle-related chronic diseases.

36:40: Dawn mentions that exercise has anti-inflammatory effects and asks if we should be considering anti-inflammatory intervention strategies as a starting point.

37:08: Ken mentions that Steve has a paper published in the obesity journal titled “Flipping the Metabolic Switch,” a study which looked at intermittent fasting and suggested that the metabolic switch into ketosis represents an evolutionary conserved trigger point that shifts metabolism to the mobilization of fat through fatty-acid oxidation and fatty-acid derived ketones. This mobilization shows that intermittent fasting regimes that induce ketosis have the potential to improve body composition in overweight individuals. He asks how the review was designed and what was learned.

39:17: Ken comments on how this whole discussion of intermittent fasting and the resulting elevated level of ketone bodies leads one to wonder whether exogenous ketones such as esters would recapitulate some of the effects of fasting or the ketogenic diet.

41:05: Dawn mentions that from religious to medical practices, fasting has been performed for thousands of years, dating back to the Greeks, Romans, and Chinese. She asks if Steve could give an overview of the history of fasting and also why so many researchers and scientists today are taking a renewed interest in episodic caloric restriction.

42:30: Ken asks if Steve could talk about the role of resistance training in maintaining muscle mass, function and quality as we age. Ken also asks what Steve has learned in examining exercise-based interventions as well as the combination of exercise and dietary interventions.

45:45: Ken mentions that poor muscle quality and functional decline are associated with the loss of type-two muscle fibers, and increased intramuscular fat. Going on to mention that these same changes are regularly seen in endurance athletes. He asks if these adaptations might become maladaptive as these athletes age.

47:15: Dawn asks if there is an upper limit of benefit, in terms of muscle gain, and a lower limit in terms of optimal body fat, when it comes to longevity. Inquiring as to whether there is a point of diminishing returns or increasing harm when it comes to gaining muscle or losing fat.

49:18: Dawn mentions another one of Steve’s major review studies that looked at the effects of popular diets on weight loss. Steve examined the evidence for the diets that were listed in the 2016 U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of the best weight-loss diets, which ranged from the Mediterranean to Atkins to Ornish to the Paleo diets. She goes on to say that the review found the Atkins diet to have the most evidence in producing meaningful short-term and long-term weight loss.

53:00: Dawn asks what Steve’s diet and exercise routine look like.

54:24: Dawn mentions how it is not the lack of knowledge on the biology of disease, and what interventions will be effective for different individuals, but rather the implementation and adherence at a population level. Given his background in psychology, Dawn asks Steve what his thoughts are on ways to help people implement these interventions into their lives.

59:59: Ken mentions how calorie restriction is a controversial strategy to enhance longevity. Some say that it is the only strategy that has worked consistently, across species, to extend lifespan. Ken mentions that there is also evidence from multiple meta-analysis that shows only about 50% of rodent studies result in a longevity benefit. When one accounts for the quality of the food given to primates, the situation becomes even more unclear as to whether or not calorie restriction has a longevity benefit. Ken asks Steve if the same could apply to humans.

1:03:49: Dawn mentions that she understands Steve persuaded his 72-year-old father to try intermittent fasting, and that his father has become a great testimonial for Steve.

Links:

Dr. Stephen Anton faculty page:

http://aging.ufl.edu/profile/anton-steve-phd/

STEM-Talk episode 43, Dr. Jeff Volek:

https://www.ihmc.us/stemtalk/episode-43/

STEM-Talk episode 7, Dr. Mark Mattson:

https://www.ihmc.us/stemtalk/episode007/

Molecular Inflammation: Underpinnings of Aging and Age-related Diseases:

Molecular Inflammation – FINAL Paper

Effects of Popular Diets:

Popular Diets – Published Article

Flipping the Metabolic Switch:

Anton_et_al-2017-Obesity

Jul 17 2018

1hr 7mins

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Rank #9: Episode 43: Jeff Volek explains the power of ketogenic diets to reverse type 2 diabetes

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Today’s episode features an important interview with Dr. Jeff Volek, a researcher who has spent the past 20 years studying how humans adapt to carbohydrate-restricted diets.  His most recent work, which is one of the key topics of today’s interview, has focused on the science of ketones and ketogenic diets and their use as a therapeutic tool to manage insulin resistance.

In 2014, Volek became a founder and the chief science officer of Virta Health, an online specialty medical clinic dedicated to reversing diabetes, a chronic disease that has become a worldwide epidemic. The company’s ambitious goal is to reverse type 2 diabetes in 100 million people by 2025.

Earlier this year, The JMIR Diabetes Journal published a study coordinated by Volek and Virta that showed people with type 2 diabetes can be taught to sustain adequate carbohydrate restriction to achieve nutritional ketosis, thereby improving glycemic control, decreasing medication use, and allowing clinically relevant weight loss. These improvements happened after just 10 weeks on the program that Virta designed for people.

In addition to his role at Virta, Volek is a registered dietitian and full professor in the department of human sciences at Ohio State University. He is a co-author of “The New Atkins for a New You,” which came out 2010 and spent 16 weeks on The New York Times best-seller list. The book is an updated, easier-to-use version of Dr. Robert Atkins’ original 1972 book, “Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution.”

Volek has co-authored four other books, including “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living” and “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance.” Both books are co-authored with and delve somewhat deeper than “The New Atkins” did into the science and application of low-carb diets.

Volek received his bachelor’s degree in dietetics from Michigan State University in 1991. He went on to earn a master’s in exercise physiology and a PhD in kinesiology and nutrition from Pennsylvania State University. He has given more than 200 lectures about his research at scientific and industry conferences in a dozen countries. In addition to his five books, he also has published more than 300 peer-reviewed scientific papers.

Although numerous studies have confirmed the validity and safety of low-carb and ketogenic diets, Volek and others who support carbohydrate restriction are often criticized for being so one-sided that their work comes across as more advocacy than science. But in “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living,” Volek writes:

“What is the proper response when three decades of debate about carbohydrate restriction have been largely one-sided and driven more by cultural bias than science? Someone needs to stand up and represent the alternate view and science.”

As Volek explains in episode 42 of STEM-Talk, this has become his mission.

Links:

“New Atkins for a New You” — http://amzn.to/2uOjLkF

“The Art and Science of Low-Carbohydrate Living”– http://amzn.to/2hh1W9k

“The Art and Science of Low-Carbohydrate Performance” — http://amzn.to/2f2oPMV

New York Times article:
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/11/well/live/tackling-weight-loss-and-diabetes-with-video-chats.html?_r=0

JMIR DIABETES paper:
http://assets.virtahealth.com/docs/Virta_Clinic_10-week_outcomes.pdf

https://www.virtahealth.com

Show notes:

3:016: Ken and Dawn welcome Jeff to the show.

3:32: Dawn asks Jeff when and how he first became interested in science.

5:24: When Jeff was studying to be a dietitian, he was looking at a low-fat, high-carb diet. But when he began to work with diabetics, something did not seem right. Dawn asks Jeff if that is what led him to begin studying low-carb diets.

6:39: Ken comments on how diabetes is perhaps the greatest healthcare challenge we face as a society, which drives costs to more than $300 billion a year.

7:59: Dawn asks Jeff about the effectiveness of traditional treatment and management approaches for people with diabetes.

8:27: Dawn asks Jeff to talk about Virta Health, a company Jeff helped found, and a recent paper and JMIR Diabetes Journal. The paper reported on the results of a study that looked at whether sustained carbohydrate restriction and nutritional ketosis could be part of a comprehensive intervention that would allow people with type 2 diabetes to improve their health.

11.54: Dawn asks Jeff why this approach would work at the cellular level, whether it is the reduction in glucose alone or if the ketone bodies are playing a role.

14:13: Ken asks Jeff why he thinks some patients respond so remarkably and others not as much.

16:27: Dawn discusses how Virta’s mission is to reverse diabetes for 100 million people by 2025. She asks Jeff if this is a realistic number or a stretch goal.

18:28: Ken asks Jeff to briefly talk about the business model of this process and how he sees it shaking out.

20:09: Dawn asks Jeff how he and Sami Inkinen, founder of Trulia and another co-founder of Virta, crossed paths.

22:00: Dawn asks Jeff what his thoughts are on the possible epigenetic effects of the ketogenic diet, with respect to general health and wellness.

25:46: Dawn talks about an athletic friend of hers with Crohn’s disease and how she had positive health outcomes from following a ketogenic diet. She then asks Jeff if anyone has seen improvements to conditions like Crohn’s disease or rheumatoid arthritis when considering the inflammatory nature of these diseases processes.

27:54: STEMTALK BLURB

28:23: Dawn comments on how she has been a vegetarian for more than 20 years, and how it is difficult to be on a ketogenic diet with no meat as a fat source. She then discusses how “The New Atkins for a New You,” has a chapter devoted to a low-carb diet for vegetarians and asks Jeff if he has any tips to share for vegetarians or vegans.

29:59: Ken discusses a conversation he had with a woman about the difficulty of a ketogenic diet for someone who is fat-phobic. She has the idea that if she eats fat it will soon be on her. Ken then asks Jeff if this “fat fear” is something that he finds in working with patients.

32:30: Ken comments on how Rob Wolff reports that lipidologists are quite wary of the LDL-P, the particle numbers that they see in some people trying the ketogenic diet. As a result, these people have to increase their carb intake. Ken then asks Jeff what his thoughts on this are.

35:33: Ken discusses how LDL-P is more strongly correlated with heart disease than LDL cholesterol in the literature.

41:02: Dawn asks Jeff if he thinks that someone on a ketogenic diet would need a different amount of fiber per day compared to what has been recommended by the Institute of Medicine.

41:44: Dawn discusses how for decades recreational and competitive athletes have religiously consumed a diet rich in carbohydrates to fuel their performance, and the conventional wisdom has been to avoid fatty foods. However, in recent years these beliefs have been questioned. Dawn asks Jeff to give an overview of this trend.

44:58: Dawn asks Jeff to expand on why he thinks there was no difference in muscle glycogen between the two groups.

47:56: Dawn discusses a recent paper published in The Journal of Physiology where Louise Burke looked at elite race walkers while on the ketogenic diet. The team found that this diet impaired performance in elite endurance athletes “despite a significant improvement in peak aerobic capacity.” Her primary point was that race walkers showed increased oxygen demand for a given speed. Dawn then asks Jeff to share his thoughts on this paper.

49:40: Ken asks Jeff to briefly explain the role of PDH, and whether Jeff looked at this enzyme in his studies on athletes who were keto-adapted.

51:40: Ken discusses how in contrast to endurance sports, some more power-oriented athletes have reported that when on a ketogenic diet they experience low energy levels during the most demanding moments in the sport, but others do not experience this at all. Ken asks Jeff if he has any thoughts on power athletes on a ketogenic diet.

56:29: Dawn discusses how Jeff has spent a good amount of time studying keto-adapted elite ultra-runners, such as the western states 100 record holder, Tim Olson. Dawn asks Jeff what he learned at this event with regards to a low-carb endurance athlete, and how this informs recommendations he would make to athletes when they are fueling for a competition of this kind.

59:07 Dawn asks Jeff if he sees more athletes shifting towards a low-carb diet.

1:00:37: Ken discusses the use of exogenous ketone esters in the Tour de France races. He then asks Jeff for his opinion on this and to briefly address the confusion on this topic

1:04:01: Ken comments on how Jeff wrapped up the confusion nicely.

1:05:14: Ken and Dawn thank Jeff for joining them.

Aug 01 2017

1hr 7mins

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Rank #10: Episode 98: Steven Austad talks about aging and preserving human health

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Our guest today is Dr. Steven Austad who studies virtually every aspect of aging. He is a distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Biology at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.

In addition to being recognized for his aging and longevity research, Steve is also well-known for his background as a New York City cab driver, newspaper reporter and a lion trainer who then decided to become a biologist.

His research today involves developing lifestyle and pharmacological approaches to improving and preserving human health. He is particularly focused on figuring out why different species age at different rates.

Steve is the author of more than 190 scientific articles. His book, “Why We Age: What Science Is Discovering about the Body’s Journey Through Life,” has been translated into nine languages. He also writes newspaper columns and has written for publications like Natural History magazine, Scientific American and International Wildlife.

Show notes:

[00:02:53] Dawn opens the interview mentioning that Steve was born in Southern California, but that his family moved around so much, that he ended up attending around 20 grade schools. Steve explains that his father bought a travel trailer and moved the family around the country.

[00:03:57] Steve talks about how even though he was shy and introverted as a kid, he found a way to fit in with his classmates.

[00:04:40] Ken mentions how Steve’s career went through several reinventions before settling into a career in science. Among the various occupations Steve had were: a newspaper reporter, training lions and tigers for television and movies, and taxi driving. Ken asks Steve how he became a taxi driver.

[00:06:01] Steve talks about his time on the West Coast in Portland working as a newspaper reporter for the Oregonian.

[00:07:48] Dawn asks how it was that Tippi Hedren and Melanie Griffith had something to do with Steve becoming a lion trainer.

[00:14:39] Ken asks Steve about the suicidal duck whose reckless abandonment nearly resulted in Steve’s death at the hands of one of the lions he was training.

[00:19:21] Steve discusses why his fascination with animal behavior lead him to California State University to major in biology.

[00:23:24] Dawn asks what took Steve to the University of New Mexico for his postdoc.

[00:28:16] Ken asks how Steve landed his job as assistant professor in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University in 1986.

[00:29:59] Dawn mentions that Steve discovered that opossums of the predator-free barrier island of Sapelo Island lived 25 percent longer than their cousins on the mainland of Georgia. Steve discusses this and explains how this discovery played a role in his future research.

[00:34:13] Dawn points out that Steve left Harvard for the University of Idaho where he became a full professor and then next went the University of Texas. Dawn asks Steve about accepting  a position in 2014 at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.

[00:41:32] Steve discusses his research into lifespan and healthspan and longevity and why some species age at different rates, with a particular interest in long-lived organisms like quahogs clams and hydra. He goes on to explain how this research led to what he refers to as the “Longevity Quotient.”

[00:48:42] Ken mentions that as a former Rhode Islander, he spent some time digging Quahogs and eating them.

[00:53:14] Steve gives an overview of how dietary restriction studies are performed on mice.

[00:59:39] Ken mentions that from Steve’s description it seems that modern humans are becoming more and more like laboratory mice.

[01:02:53] Ken mentions STEM-Talk episode 79 where Satchin Panda talks about time-restricted eating, and episode 7 where Mark Matson talks about intermittent fasting. Ken goes on to say that Mark made the point that the benefits of time-restricted eating or intermittent fasting is that it puts the organism, particularly the human, in a state of ketosis.

[01:04:09] Steve talks about the differences in the maximum lifespans of males and females in both humans and other animals.

[01:08:42] Ken recommends STEM-Talk episode 67 with Doug Wallace for listeners interested in hearing more about mitochondria.

[01:09:44] Dawn asks about metformin, which is a drug that many people believe has the potential to increase our healthspan and lifespan. She asks why it is that we’re not all taking metformin and if it really has such potential. She further asks about the status of the Targeting Aging With Metformin (TAME) trial.

[01:13:39] Ken mentions a recent study coming from the Miller lab, that suggested metformin might inhibit mitochondrial adaptations to exercise in older adults. He goes on to mention an even more recent paper out of the University of Kentucky and the University of Alabama, Birmingham has reported that metformin blunts muscle hypertrophy in response to resistance exercise training in older adults. Ken also mentions Steve’s continued interest in rapamycin and its effect on the health span of animals. Ken asks what Steve has learned and if rapamycin would still be his first choice for testing for a drug to target aging.

[01:20:08] Ken asks about the optimal and most efficacious dose of rapamycin for humans.

[01:21:10] Dawn mentions a paper Steve co-authored with Tuck Finch, discussing the role of the different APOE isoforms. Dawn asks about the ancestral isoform and why we see different isoform distributions today compared to hundreds of thousands of years ago.

[01:24:59] Dawna asks why we see different isoform distributions between different populations around the globe.

[01:26:29] Dawn asks how much of a role lifestyle versus genetics plays in healthspan and lifespan.

[01:28:58] Steve talks about of Fauja Singh, who is 108 and didn’t start distance running until he was in his 80s, and who ran a marathon when he was 101.

[01:32:17] Ken asks if Steve is still as confident as he was in 2016 when he made a bet with Olshansky over whether there will be one or more 150-year-old human by the year 2150.

[01:34:15] Ken asks why we haven’t seen someone exceed Jeanne Calment’s record age of 122 years that she reached in 1997.

[01:36:04] Dawn mentions that Steve continues to write articles and columns for newspapers as well as other news outlets. In addition to this Steve also has a website called, “Let’s Talk Science?” where an assortment of his newspaper columns and other writings can be found.

[01:37:47] Dawn closes the interview suggesting that Steve might want to explore writing a novel about a young newspaper reporter who ends up driving a Mercedes across California with a lion in the backseat, who then finds himself in a Hollywood mansion living with Tippi Hedrin and Melanie Griffin and watching over the lions and cheetahs that run through the house. Dawn suggests that has the makings of a good book.

Links:

Austad’s University of Alabama, Birmingham bio

Let’s Talk Science

Learn more about IHMC

STEM-Talk homepage

Ken Ford bio

Dawn Kernagis bio

Nov 05 2019

1hr 40mins

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Rank #11: Episode 63: Keith Baar talks about collagen synthesis, ketogenic diet, mTORC1 signaling, autophagy, post strength training nutrition, and more…

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Dr. Keith Baar joins Ken and Dawn today for the second of his two-part interview for STEM-Talk. Keith is a renowned scientist in the emerging field of molecular exercise physiology who has made fundamental discoveries on how muscles grow bigger, stronger, and more fatigue resistant.

He is the head of the Functional Molecular Biology Laboratory in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior at the University of California, Davis. In his lab, he leads a team of researchers attempting to develop ways to improve muscle, tendon and ligament function.

Part one of our interview, episode 62, covered Keith’s childhood in Canada and his undergrad years at the University of Michigan as well as his time at the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned a master’s degree in human biophysics. We talked about Keith’s work at the University of Illinois, where he received a doctorate in physiology and biophysics. We also covered Keith’s time in the lab of John Holloszy, who is known as the father of exercise research in the United States, as well as the five years Keith spent at the University of Dundee in Scotland.

Episode 63 picks up with Keith explaining his decision to return to the states and join the faculty at the University of California, Davis.  Ken and Dawn then talk to Keith about his most recent research, some of which is looking at how to determine the best way to train, as well as what types of foods compliment training to decrease tendon and ligament injury and accelerate return to play. This work has the potential to improve muscle function not only in athletes, but also improve people’s quality of life as they age. Another key topic covered in part two of our interview is the research Keith is doing on a ketogenic diet and its potential to reduce cancer rates and improve cognition. Keith also provides his thoughts on what optimal workouts and nutrition should look like.

Links:

Baar’s UC Davis physiology department bio:

https://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/physiology/faculty/baar.html

Baar’s UC Davis biology department bio:

https://biology.ucdavis.edu/people/keith-baar

Functional Molecular Biology Lab website:

http://www.fmblab.com/

Molecular brakes regulating mTORC1 activation in skeletal muscle paper:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4137116/

Age-related Differences in Dystrophin article:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27382038

Show notes:

2:54: Dawn begins part 2 of our interview by mentioning that for the past eight years, Keith has been working at the University of California Davis. She asks Keith what prompted him to return to the U.S. from Scotland and join the faculty at UC Davis.

3:37: Dawn points out that Keith’s Functional Molecular Biology Lab conducts research across a range of related topics, including musculoskeletal development and adaptation as well as methods for engineering functional musculoskeletal tissues in vitro. She asks Keith to give a high-level overview of some of that research.

4:16: Dawn comments that some of Keith’s recent work has shown that we can use specific nutrition and training strategies to optimize injury recovery and prevention. She goes on to say that musculoskeletal injuries are among the most common problems that active people have.

8:45: Ken talks about how Keith has noted that tendon stiffness is dependent upon collagen content, and the amount of crosslinks within. He goes on to mention that Keith has developed various training modalities, as well as nutritional protocols, that can increase and decrease tendon stiffness. Ken begins this line of inquiry by asking about the training methods for this purpose.

12:04: Following up on the previous question, Ken asks whether anyone has looked at how blood flow restriction training, which is increasing in popularity, affects tendon stiffness.

13:32: Dawn moves on to asking about nutrition. She mentions that Keith’s lab has done a great deal of groundbreaking work on the use of gelatin and a small amount of vitamin C to augment collagen synthesis in tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and bone. She asks if he could talk about this nutrition protocol and its effects, particularly when combined with jumping rope.

17:52: Ken mentions that this work is not only interesting scientifically, but it has an immediate, practical application that people can use in their life. Ken goes on to say that those suffering from stress fractures or a variety of other ailments could benefit from this.

21:09: Ken mentions that there are several different forms of collagen, asking if there is any particularly efficacious form, or if they function equally.

22:40: Ken comments that it is not just lower body weakness and injuries in tendons, but also tendonitis that is found in the shoulders and elbows. He asks if there is a variant of Keith’s protocol that is suited for this sort of tendonitis as well.

24:37: Ken asks a question submitted by friends in the special ops community. He mentions that one of their biggest issues is force absorption, due to the repeated, substantial, damage accrued in both training and in operations. He goes on to ask if a focus on eccentric training would lengthen fascicles to allow for greater absorption, and how does it influence the ability to contract concentrically.

26:13: Dawn mentions that she has heard Keith discuss “sugar cross-linking” in the context of aging and diabetes. She asks if this explains why diabetics suffer an increased incidence of tendon and ligament ruptures and injuries.

28:22: Ken, coming back to tendon stiffness, mentions that in addition to fast exercise, inactivity also leads to increased tendon stiffness, counterintuitive as that is. He asks if Keith could discuss this, somewhat surprising, fact.

30:20: Ken comments that ligament engineering is another fascinating area of Keith’s research; he goes on to say that Keith and his colleagues recently engineered the first in vitro ligaments. He goes on to inquire as to how these ligaments are created, what insights can be gleaned from them, and how Keith sees them being used in the future.

34:23: Ken states that mTOR inhibition by rapamycin is arguably the only strategy that has reliably resulted in lifespan extension across a multitude of different species. He goes on to say that we know that mTORC1 activation increases muscle mass and strength, which is critical for optimizing health span into old age. He goes on to bring up a recent paper Keith co-authored with Megan Roberts that showed the ketogenic diet had tissue-specific effects on mTORC1 signaling; decreasing signaling in the liver, while increasing it in the muscle. Ken postulates that perhaps researchers should focus their attention on tissue-specific mTOR activity, to further elucidate the issue of balancing mTOR for longevity with the maintenance of muscle for strength quality. Ken asks Keith if he had unlimited resources, how would Keith design a study to explore this.

43:32: Ken asks if Keith is familiar with a class of drugs that one could characterize as PPAR-delta agonists, sometimes called exercise mimetics, given the overlap between the effects of the ketogenic diet and this class of drugs.

45:10: In regards to longevity, Dawn mentions that few would argue that many elite athletes train for performance at the expense of health. She asks what would be Keith’s overall training recommendation for someone who wants to maximize healthspan and lifespan, and if that is possible while also striving for top levels of performance.

49:24: Ken comments on a belief in the world of “bro science,” that post-exercise carbohydrate ingestion is absolutely necessary for maximizing the anabolic response of resistance training. Ken asks if this is true, and if not, if Keith would educate us as to why and what optimal nutrition and workouts should look like.

51:18: Ken asks what Keith sees as the role of autophagy in the maintenance of muscle mass in aging adults.

53:48: Ken comments on the phenomenon of older people developing anabolic resistance, much like insulin resistance; mentioning a paper that recently looked at the ketogenic diet in that context and found it increased IGF-1 receptor sensitivity.

54:46: Dawn asks to what extent does Keith think a person’s baseline body composition can impact the response to an exercise stimulus.

55:44: Ken points out that Keith has been a scientific advisor for a number of different athletic teams and organizations, pointing out that Keith works to maximize the effects of training for both endurance and strength as well as ways to minimize injury. Ken asks Keith what that experience has been like.

58:27: Ken mentions his intrigue with the mission statement of Keith’s Functional Molecular Biology Lab: “To perform world class musculoskeletal research in a family environment.” Ken asks Keith to explain the story behind including “a family environment” in his mission statement.

1:01:08: Interview ends.

May 08 2018

1hr 2mins

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Rank #12: Episode 87: Dom D’Agostino reflects on his 10 years of research into ketogenic nutrition

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Dr. Dominic D’Agostino returns to STEM-Talk to give Ken and Dawn an update on his research into ketogenic nutrition. Dom was the guest on episode 14 back in 2016 when ketogenic diets didn’t even show up on a list of the top-10 diets that people Googled. Since then, the search term “ketogenic diet” has risen to the top of the list.

In today’s episode, Dom talks about his past 10 years of research into ketogenic diets and what he is learning about the physiological benefits of nutritional ketosis.

Dom is tenured associate professor in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine.He also is a research scientist here at IHMC.Throughout his career, Dom has been a researcher with a diverse background in neuroscience, molecular pharmacology, nutrition and physiology.

Show notes:

[00:02:55] Dawn begins the interview mentioning that when she and Ken started hosting STEM-Talk, the ketogenic diet wasn’t on the list of the top-10 most Googled diets of 2015. Today, however, Dawn points that ketogenic diet is number one on the list. She asks Dom if he foresaw sudden mass interest in a ketogenic diet coming.

[00:04:12] Ken asks Dom for his thoughts on how the ketogenic diet has went from being very obscure to becoming a household term.

[00:06:04] Ken comments on the evolutionary component of the ketogenic diet and how our ancestors must have gone in and out of ketosis based on the availability of food. He also comments on the unique aspect of the ketogenic diet, being that it has an objective measurement, and asks Dom to talk about that.

[00:06:59] Dawn comments on the cynicism regarding the ketogenic diet, particularly from nutritionists. She asks Dom to address the criticism and pushback that the ketogenic diet receives from so many nutritionists.

[00:10:02] Ken mentions that some fields are resistant to change and new science due to the emotion behind established theories. Dom agrees and then talks about how people, even doctors, are resistant to new data and new science.

[00:11:13] Dom talks about the most common misconceptions and overrepresentations of the ketogenic diet.

[00:12:54] Ken discusses his dissatisfaction with the term “ketogenic diet” since the word diet implies the mandated consumption of certain food items. He goes on to say that if one is in ketosis, then, by definition, they are doing a ketogenic diet, even though they may be in ketosis because they have been fasting and haven’t eaten anything.  Ken and Dom discuss how knowledge about ketogenic nutrition has changed over time and that it is certainly possible to eat an unhealthy ketogenic diet.

[00:15:35] Dom and Ken talk about the results of a recent Megan Roberts paper, “A Ketogenic Diet Extends Longevity and Healthspan in Adult Mice,”that showed a 13% increase in the lifespan of the mice along with remarkably improved healthspan.

[00:20:26] Dom shares his thoughts on the potential of exogenous ketones in the context of blood glucose regulation.

[00:27:07] Ken asks if Dom has been tracking Virta Health, which was founded by Dr. Jeff Volek who was interviewed in STEM-Talk episode 43. Virta Health has been publishing impressive results of its trials that show  people reversing type-2 diabetes via a well-formulated ketogenic diet.

[00:29:13] Ken adds that the reported numbers from Virta show 60% to 70% of their patients going off their insulin medication or greatly reducing their insulin levels.

[00:30:55] Dawn asks about Dom’s experience going underwater for 10 days in participation of a NASA NEEMO mission. She asks him to talk about his personal experience as well as his background in hyperbaric physiology.

[00:32:08] Dom discusses his group’s work replicating the experimental design of his original oxygen toxicity work in aged and obese rats.

[00:33:35] Dawn briefly describes what oxygen toxicity is, and asks Dom about the first human studies, on which he is serving as a consultant, that are being conducted at Duke University to assess the effect of nutritional ketosis on oxygen toxicity and seizure risk. She points out that the studies that are being run by Dr. Bruce Derrick.

[00:36:36] Dom discusses brain energy metabolism, and cerebral metabolism, in the context of ketone bodies.

[00:39:23] Dom talks about his group’s research into kabuki syndrome, an epigenetic disorder that causes altered growth and cognitive dysfunction in children.

[00:42:02] Dom elaborates on the difference between ketone esters and ketone salts.

[00:44:00] Ken asks if there’s any evidence that people experience medical issues as a result of ketone esters or salts.

[00:48:02] Dawn asks about the transition into ketosis for women, which appears to be more difficult than it is for men, and whether the use of exogenous ketones would be a good option for women.

[00:49:43] Dawn asks if there are any more resources that have been generated on a vegetarian ketogenic diet, since the last time she and Dom discussed it on STEM-Talk.

[00:50:41] Ken asks about the differences between a ketone tolerance test and a glucose tolerance test.

[00:53:36] Ken discusses how some research suggests that anaerobic athletes such as wrestlers, boxers, and MMA fighters will experience a dip in performance on a ketogenic diet. He asks what the state of research is on this topic, and how such athletes can modify their fueling to obtain the benefits of the ketogenic diet (such as brain protection) while maximizing their performance.

[00:56:57] Dom discusses the ketogenic diet in relation to the gut microbiome, and the resolving of long-term GI issues for people who go on the ketogenic diet, as well as the study coming from the Sonnenberg lab at Stanford.

[00:59:58] Dom talks about his group’s exploration of an ecological idea of cancer treatment based on the ecological concept of animal extinction.

[01:02:37] Dom talks about his collaborative paper, written with his Ph.D. student, Andrew Koutnik, and Brendan Egan, titled, “Anti-catabolic Effects of Ketone Bodies in Skeletal Muscle.”

[01:05:11] Dawn asks about Dom’s research on cancer cachexia, and what spurred his interest in this topic.

[01:07:05] Dawn asks what targets people should shoot for on a ketogenic diet with regards to their electrolytes, and to describe the signs and symptoms of inadequate electrolytes.

[01:09:31] Ken asks what experiences stick out to Dom, as he reflects on the last 10 years of his scientific journey.

[01:12:11] Dawn asks about Dom and his wife’s new dog and their farm.

[01:14:15] Ken asks about Dom’s fitness routine now that he no longer goes to a gym.

[01:16:05] Dawn ends the interview asking if Dom recommends farming and gardening as a way to stay in shape.

Links:

Anticatabolic Effects of Ketone Bodies in Skeletal Muscle

Dom’s website

Dom’s USF website

Dom’s IHMC bio

Learn more about IHMC

STEM-Talk homepage

Ken Ford bio

Dawn Kernagis bio

Apr 23 2019

1hr 22mins

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Rank #13: Episode 100: Peter Attia gives an update on his views regarding longevity and health span

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Today’s episode marks the 100th episode of STEM-Talk and the return of guest Peter Attia, who Ken and Dawn interviewed for episode one of STEM-Talk back in 2016.

Peter is the founder of Attia Medical, a medical practice with offices in San Diego and New York City that focuses on the applied science of longevity. Peter emphasizes nutritional biochemistry, exercise physiology, sleep physiology, lipidology, pharmacology and four-system endocrinology to help people increase their lifespan and health span.

Peter is the host of the podcast The Drive. He earned his M.D. from Stanford University and holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering and applied mathematics.

Show notes:

[00:04:44] Dawn opens the interview welcoming Peter back to the show. Dawn mentions that a lot has happened since she and Ken last interviewed Peter and points out that Peter is in the process of writing a book.

[00:05:51] Ken asks Peter if it’s true that he does his best writing on long flights.

[00:06:21] Dawn mentions that in 2014 Peter created Attia Medical, which is a practice with offices in San Diego and New York City, where he focuses on the applied science of longevity and optimal performance. Peter gives an overview of his practice and how he works to improve people’s healthspan and lifespan.

[00:07:29] Ken asks Peter to explain the difference between a strategy and a tactic in the domain of optimization of performance and healthspan.

[00:10:35] Dawn mentions that back on episode one of STEM-Talk that Peter talked about his eight drivers of longevity. Dawn asks Peter if his thinking over the past three years has changed in terms of the eight drivers.

[00:12:30] Dawn asks what are some of the best lab tests in terms of longevity that people should request from their primary care physician.

[00:14:25] Ken asks how Peter goes about determining optimal reference ranges to target in his patients, noting that the guidelines constituting normal are based on a sick overall population.

[00:17:26] Dawn talks about how every year a new secret to longevity comes out with the force of hype behind it, but that rarely does the new so-called secret deliver. In contrast, she mentions how Peter encourages people to keep things simple and focus on nutrition, exercise and sleep. Peter explains how these three things can have the biggest impact on a person’s physical health.

[00:19:35] Dawn explains that optimizing health span can be expensive, often costing upwards of $100,000 a year in tests and devices and off-label medications. She asks if Peter has any thoughts on if there is becoming a class divide in the world of healthspan and lifespan.

[00:21:10] Ken explains that a primary inhibitor of BDNF is HDAC, and BHB is a powerful inhibitor of HDAC, which leads one to think that one of the mechanisms of exercise to increase BDNF is the elevation of BHB.

[00:22:21] Ken mentions that the area under the curve for insulin is one of Peter’s favorite longevity markers, and asks him to talk about the concept of insulin area under the curve.  In addition to blood tests and glucose monitoring, Ken asks Peter what would be the next item of greatest interest in terms of longevity markers.

[00:24:28] Dawn mentions that Peter wears an Oura Ring to monitor his sleep, and a glucose monitor to measure his blood sugar in real time. Dawn asks Peter to talk about the benefits of continuous monitoring versus short-term use for the purpose of building future behavior.

[00:25:54] Dawn asks if Peter uses any other wearables besides the ones she just mentioned.

[00:27:45] Dawn points out that Peter traveled to Easter Island with some friends, including David Sabatini, a guest on episode 70 of STEM-Talk. Dawn asks Peter to talk about the trip which was set up to explore first-hand the place where a group of Canadian researchers first discovered rapamycin.

[00:29:13] Ken mentions that Peter is on record saying, “For me personally nothing is more interesting than rapamycin.” Peter explains what he has been learning about rapamycin and why it is so fascinating.

[00:31:49] Ken says that in one of Peter’s podcasts, Peter mentioned he had been taking 5 mg of rapamycin. Ken asks what it was that informed that choice. Ken also asks Peter how he has been tracking rapamycin’s effects, and if he has any thoughts for listeners considering rapamycin.

[00:33:38] Dawn asks if we are any closer to being able to accurately measure biological signals, such as mTOR activity and autophagy, than we were three years ago.

[00:36:28] Peter explains his thoughts on muscle loss and fasting, and the amino acids that are important in muscles affected during a fast.

[00:38:44] Ken mentions that there are a lot of misconceptions about protein consumption, particularly in the context of ketogenic diets. He mentions Valter Longo’s opinion that a diet high in protein is as bad as smoking. Peter explains his thoughts on the role of protein in health and performance.

[00:41:05] Ken makes the point that the strongest viewpoints in science that have the most passion and anger behind them are often the ones with the largest error bars.

[00:41:35] Dawn mentions the importance of IGF-1 and its related molecules on metabolism. She asks about the paradox when it comes to IGF-1 in terms of performance and longevity.

[00:43:39] Ken mentions that the Annals of Internal Medicine published a study that made the point that eating red meat poses minimal health risks. Peter gives his thoughts on this.

[00:48:39] Ken states that in addition to rapamycin and fasting, he and Peter share an interest in sauna, a practice with growing evidence for its benefits. Ken asks Peter’s opinion on the difference between infrared and traditional sauna.

[00:50:03] Dawn mentions that in 2016 the Dong et al paper in Nature suggested that the limit of human longevity has been reached, and that Barbi et all published a paper in Science in 2018 that said that the mortality curve for humans flattens out once the age of 105 is reached. Peter shares his thoughts on just how long humans can live.

[00:53:29] Ken mentions that a recent study from the Miller Lab suggested that metformin might inhibit mitochondrial adaptation in older adults, and that an even more recent paper out of the University of Kentucky and the University of Alabama reported that metformin significantly blunts muscle hypertrophy in response to resistance training. Peter gives his thoughts on this and why he stopped taking metformin.

[00:55:36] Peter shares his concerns about generic metformin, as well as his recent interview with Katherine Eban about the fraud in the generic drug industry.

[00:57:15] Ken mentions that Peter is a proponent of fasting, and is involved with the Zero app. Ken asks if the benefits of fasting can be thought of in relationship to ApoB levels.

[00:59:18] Ken asks Peter to describe what he sees as the most interesting question he doesn’t yet have an answer to, but believes is eventually possible to know.

[01:00:28] Dawn ends the interview by asking Peter if there is one thing that he did not believe three years ago that he now thinks is likely to be true.

Links:

Peter Attia bio

Learn more about IHMC

STEM-Talk homepage

Ken Ford bio

Dawn Kernagis bio

Dec 17 2019

1hr 3mins

Play

Rank #14: Episode 11: Kirk Parsley discusses why good sleep is more important than nutrition and exercise

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If we could only sell people on the importance of sleep as successfully as we sell them on the pleasures of sex, we’d have a much healthier—and happier bunch. This is one of sleep expert Kirk Parsley’s messages.

Parsley calls sleep “the greatest elixir,” and places its importance above that of both exercise and nutrition. Yet, this simple physiological need is hard to satisfy in a society that glorifies business and overworking—and loves its electronics, which don’t exactly prepare the body for sleep.

Parsley discusses these and other issues with STEM-Talk host Dawn Kernagis. He talks about how his background as a Navy SEAL led him to a career in medicine, focused on sleep. He also explains why sleep is important—and how you can get more of it.

Parsley served as the Naval Special Warfare’s expert on sleep medicine, and has been a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine since 2006. He is also the inventor of the Sleep Cocktail, a supplement designed for the sleep optimization of Navy SEALs: http://www.sleepcocktails.com

A much sought-after sleep expert, this podcast marks Parsley’s 100th podcast interview. You can find more information on him at his web site: www.docparsley.com. You can find his TED talk at http://tinyurl.com/pw9h7qz

4:10: Dawn welcomes Kirk.

5:00: Kirk joined the Navy SEALs after high school and stayed for nearly seven years. “I quickly realized that was a young, single man’s job, and I was becoming neither.”

6:09: Kirk volunteered at the San Diego Sports Medicine Center to qualify for physical therapy school, but found the field too limited, so he shadowed doctors and decided to pursue medicine.

7:00: He attended the military’s medical school. “They were going to pay me to go to medical school instead of the other way around…”

9:58: The SEALs came to him for medical advice. “The most palatable way for me to talk about it in the military was through sleep. They didn’t really want me talking about testosterone. Adrenal fatigue is sort of a pseudo-scientific term. So inadvertently I became a sleep guy.”

10:40: “I don’t think there’s any area of your life that isn’t significantly impacted by sleep. Good quality sleep is probably the most important elixir there is.” He places it above both nutrition and exercise.

11:35: Sleep is a hard sell, with the advent of factory jobs and the idea that time is money.

13:55: “My message is the more you sleep, the more work you get done.”

14:58: “The big problem with sleep is …. Once you fall asleep until you wake up, you don’t really have any objective experience of that.”

15:50: Polysomnographs reveal that some people wake up 300 times a night, but say they slept fine.

16:13: You don’t need the same amount of sleep every day. Seven and a half hours is the average amount of sleep we aim for to enhance the immune system.

17:05: Kirk compares proper sleep to taking your daily vitamin. “You can’t really tell the true benefits of proper sleep until you’ve done it for a month or so.”

17:40: Wearable tech gadgets such as Fitbit and Jawbone measure how much you move during sleep and equate that with sleep quantity. “The truth is you could stare at your ceiling, never move, and never sleep, and it would say you got this awesome night of sleep.”

19:00: Some devices also measure heart rate variability; others, placed under your pillow or on your nightstand, record your respiratory rate. Some iPhone apps capture snoring.

19:40: Polysomnographs are the gold standard for determining how much somebody sleeps.

20:00: Everyone has a different sleep metric: mood, athletic performance, project completion rate/satisfaction.

21:12: Sleep deprivation leads to anxiety, which is already a big problem for entrepreneurs and other professionals.

21:20: Commercial break: STEM-Talk is an educational service of the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, a not-for-profit research lab pioneering ground-breaking technologies aimed at leveraging human cognition, perception, locomotion and resilience.

22:55: Stage 1 sleep is the decision to get in bed and try to start falling asleep.

23:19: Stage 2 is “pre-sleep”: when you are not quite asleep, but somewhat aware of your environment.

24:10: Stage 3 and 4 sleep is deep sleep. Delta and Theta brainwaves occur. Predominantly the first four hours are deep sleep; the last four hours are REM (rapid eye movement).

24:53: What happens during deep sleep is the opposite of fight or flight. The immune system is at its highest function; you are secreting maximal growth hormones/testosterone. It is the only time the body is repairing itself.

26:00: Some medications and alcohol interfere with deep sleep.

26:55: During REM, you experience the most most vivid dreaming; emotional categorization.

27:20: People who sleep adequately say they dream a lot because they have gotten lots of REM.

28:00: If you wake up during deep sleep, you’re going to feel bad. The adrenals have to ramp up.

29:25: Kirk discusses iPhone apps that measure sleep cycles.

31:00: During sleep, neurotransmitter changes occur in the brain, and a cleansing of the glymphatic system.

32:32: When we are tense, there is a build-up of adenosine; that’s why when we’ve had a hard day, we feel like sleeping. Sleep pressure is driven by adenosine.

33:34: People with intense schedules fall asleep easily because of a lot of sleep pressure: a lot of adrenal hormones are circulating throughout body. As soon as they flush out all of the neurotoxins/adenosine, the adrenal function wakes them up. They often say, “I fall asleep in 30 seconds” as well as, “I sleep for two hours, and I’m wide awake.”

35:24: We are the only animal that sleep deprives ourselves on purpose. The only time other animals don’t sleep is if they are being stalked by a predator or the brain senses famine.

36:42: Chronic sleep deprivation compromises our pre-frontal cortex-executive functioning, which means: our ability to make decisions and solve problems; our reaction time and attention span.

38:00: When the body is sleep-deprived, it is less anabolic; is has to secrete stress hormones to get through the day; that’s why people use stimulants.

39:17: Sleep adaptation studies show that the average person living in the Western industrialized lifestyle settles down at needing 7.5 hours of sleep.

43:05: A genetic variant allows some people to sleep less and not suffer sleep deprivation as badly as the average person.

45:00: “If you were about to have surgery, and while you were reading consent forms, the surgeon has a shot of whiskey, no one would be comfortable with that. If that guys takes a shot every two hours, he’s performing like someone who has been up for 18 hours in a row; and we accept that all the time.”

45:44: We put pilots in air who have been sleep deprived for four nights—especially transcontinental pilots.

49:28: Commercial break: STEM-Talk is an educational service of the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, a not-for-profit research lab pioneering ground-breaking technologies aimed at leveraging human cognition, perception, locomotion and resilience.

50:15: Sleep drugs go after the GABA analogues.

52:45: Sleep drugs on average shorten the time it takes to get to sleep by 15 minutes, and lengthen it by 30 minutes; but they fundamentally damage sleep architecture and damage REM sleep by 80 percent.

53:13: Over the counter drugs such as Benadryl block histamines.

53:34: Alcohol affects stages 3 and 4 sleep and REM.

54:32: Sleep drugs are helpful to get back on track if you are jet lagged or confronted with an emotional trauma. But 69 percent of people taking sleep drugs take them every night.

58:28: Kirk encourages engaging in sleep rituals with the same regularity as you might stick to a workout schedule.

1:00:24: Improve your sleep by decreasing stimulation to the brain an hour before bed by doing yoga, meditation, reading.

1:04:20: Melatonin is major hormone involved with sleep. Most people take way too much, decreasing their brain’s sensitivity to melatonin. From the time the sun goes down, your brain will only produce between 3 and 6 micrograms of melatonin.

1:08:18: Kirks discusses the link between sleep deprivation and depression.

1:09:00: Kirk discusses his sleep supplement. It can cross blood brain barrier. It’s low-dose, for sleep initiation. It’s meant to compensate for whatever is sub-optimal about sleep habits.

1:11:19: Mentions web site: www.docparsley.com where you can see other podcasts, read blogs, find more information. Web site is being re-launched: Will have new blog.

1:12:15: His sleep drug, sleep cocktail, will be renamed because a lot of people think it’s an alcoholic drink.

1:13:43: Dawn thanks Kirk.

1:14:09: STEM-Talk’s “double secret selection committee” may invite Kirk back for a second interview as there is much more to discuss.

1:14:23: Dawn and Ken mention that Dr. Parsley will be visiting IHMC and giving a public lecture in the Evening Lecture Series.

1:14:29: Dawn and Ken thank the audience for terrific support during the launch of STEM-Talk and mention that STEM-Talk was immediately featured in iTunes’ New and Noteworthy category and was actually in the top position at one point.  It has pretty consistently been #1 in both the Science & Medicine and Natural Sciences categories.

1:15:02: Dawn invites the audience to visit the the STEM-Talk webpage where one can find the show notes for this episode and all others.

1:15:10: Dawn and Ken sign off.

May 10 2016

1hr 15mins

Play

Rank #15: Episode 54: Brianna Stubbs talks about ketone esters and their application in sport

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Late in 2017, a San Francisco startup company brought one of the commercial ketone esters to market. Today’s episode features an interview with a scientist and world-class athlete who has spent the past year helping develop and rollout HVMN Ketone, an FDA-approved drink that promises increased athletic ability as well as heightened focus and energy.

Dr. Brianna Stubbs earned her PhD in biochemical physiology from Oxford University in 2016 where she researched the effects of ketone drinks on elite athletes. During Brianna’s collegiate athletic career, she won two gold medals while representing Great Britain at the World Rowing Championships. She first made international news when as a 12-year-old she became the youngest person ever to row across the British Channel.

Brianna graduated from Oxford’s Pembroke College with a BA in preclinical sciences with the idea of becoming an MD.  But after spending a year working as a research assistant helping to investigate the effect of exogenous ketones on human performance, she decided instead to pursue her doctorate in biochemical physiology and investigate how ketone compounds might be applied in a sporting and healthcare setting in the future.

While at Oxford, she worked alongside Dr. Kieran Clarke to develop a novel ketone monoester that has been shown to improve exercise performance in endurance athletes. She also was a member of the Great Britain Rowing Team and in 2016 become the World Champion in the lightweight guadruple sculls. Brianna’s time at Oxford gave her a unique opportunity to combine her scientific interest in sports physiology and metabolism while also competing at an international level.

Brianna moved to the United States in June of 2017 to work at HVMN and help bring the company’s ketone ester to market.

Links:

HVMN website: https://hvmn.com/ketone

Mark Mattson STEM-Talk: http://www.ihmc.us/stemtalk/episode007/

Wikipedia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNhuJ4JiK40

Mice and ketones cognition: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5102124/#!po=10.1064

Owen and Cahill: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6061736

Oxford ketone study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27475046

Glycogen re-synthesi and ketones: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28398950

Ketones, glycogen and mTOR: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5440563/

Caryn Zinn: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5506682/

Ketone esters vs ketone salts: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5670148/

Acetoacetate paper:            https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2017.00806/full

HVMN online fasting community: https://www.facebook.com/groups/136348456816447/

Show notes:

3:52: Ken and Dawn welcome Brianna to the show.

4:07: Dawn congratulates Brianna on bringing one of the first ketone esters to the commercial market, and asks Brianna to provide some background that led to the ketone ester launch.

5:31: Ken comments that the HBMN ester has been approved by the FDA as “generally recognized as safe,” or GRAS. He then asks her to expand on what this means in terms of human use and to expand on the value of the GRAS status.

6:31: Dawn asks Brianna what sparked her interest in science.

7:18: Ken comments that he heard Brianna was seven years old when she ran her first race, and that she ran so hard, she made herself sick. He asks if this is true.

8:16: Ken says that Brianna’s father was the one who got her interested in rowing, and when she was six years old, he signed her up for the first rowing race across the Atlantic Ocean. Ken asks if it’s true that he had never rowed before.

10:21: Dawn comments that Brianna used to run and row with her father as he trained for these races, and then when she was 12 years old she rowed across the English Channel, becoming the youngest person to ever do so. Dawn asks how this came about.

11:59: Dawn asks what Brianna’s mother was doing while she and her father were off rowing across the English Channel.

12:41: Dawn says that Brianna won her first international rowing event when she was 16, and then at 18 she won a silver medal at the junior world championships. She then asks Brianna’s to describe her training schedule as a teenager.

13:44: Ken asks Brianna what it feels like to be the best in the world at something after winning a gold medal in rowing at the 2013 and 2016 world championships.

16:32: Ken says that as a rower, Brianna mainly competed as a lightweight. He then asks what this meant in terms of preparing for competition from both a nutritional and training standpoint.

18:18: Dawn comments that the problems associated with excess training stress and inappropriate energy balance in female athletes were previously called the female athlete triad, but it has now been renamed relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S). She then asks if Brianna experienced any physiological issues associated with competing as a lightweight athlete and if she saw this in any of her male colleagues.

20:35: Dawn asks Brianna if she has any thoughts on how coaches, nutritionists, and sports scientists could better support their athletes to prevent these issues.

22:39: Ken says that it was during this time, when Brianna was at Oxford, that there was a study being done on the effects of ketone esters on rowers. He then asks how Brianna became directly involved in the study.

23:51: Dawn asks why Brianna chose to postpone her medical school training to devote more time to researching ketones.

25:04: Dawn says that she understands that the CEO and a team from HVMN visited Oxford and that Brianna sort of invited herself to dinner and convinced them that they needed to hire her to roll out the ketone ester. She then asks if that is how Brianna ended up in San Francisco.

26:52: Dawn asks what Brianna’s first year in the states has been like.

27:40: Dawn says that a bottle of the ketone ester provides 25 grams of beta-hydroxybutyrate, one of the ketone bodies that the body naturally produces during a fast or period of starvation. She then asks Brianna what happens after someone consumes a bottle.

29:32: Ken asks Brianna if she has given any thought to possible consequences of supplementing with only beta-hydroxybutyrate. He then says that it has occurred to him that there might be a reason why the liver produces roughly equal amounts of acetoacetate and beta-hydroxybutyrate.

31:34: Ken says that looking back on the Cahill study, he can’t imagine proposing a study like that to an IRB now.

32:01: Dawn comments that the work Brianna was doing with Dr. Clark suggests that drinking ketones alongside a high-carb meal deliver a powerful performance boost. She then asks Brianna if the carbs are necessary to get the full performance boost of the supplement.

32:56: Ken says that state, where there is high carbohydrate availability and high ketones, does not seem like something that would naturally occur and asks if Brianna has any thoughts on this.

33:47: Ken says that you can imagine sparing the glycogen stores for when you really need them would be a great advantage in many sports, as most sports are both aerobic and anaerobic.

34:18: Dawn asks if ketone esters are best utilized as a training aid, as opposed to being acutely administered before an event.

36:03: Ken says that there is evidence that the HVMN ketone ester improves athletic performance. He then asks Brianna about its effects on cognitive performance.

37:10: Dawn asks Brianna to talk about some of the animal studies that are being conducted on ketone esters and their impact on physical and cognitive performance.

38:37: Dawn asks Brianna to explain the difference between ketone salts and ketone esters, and to also give an overview of what the advantages and disadvantages are for each.

41:56: Ken asks how Brianna envisions people using the ketone esters as part of their nutrition plan for a multi-day race.

42:55: Ken asks Brianna if there has been a study to look at the effects of chronic ketone ester administration on performance.

44:27: Dawn asks Brianna to discuss the study in cell metabolism that was published last year that looked at ketone metabolism in elite athletes.

47:15: Dawn asks how Brianna blinded people to which was the ester and which was not during these studies, since the ester tastes bitter.

48:57: Ken asks if it would be feasible to put the agents into capsules to avert the possible confounding effects of distinguishing the rather unique taste.

49:55:  Brianna believes there are important factors in running a successful and accurate sports science study.

53:00: Brianna discusses where ketones fit in the hierarchy of fuel selection during exercise.

55:53: Ken says that the terminology, ketone and ketone esters, are not synonymous, and asks Brianna to give an overview.

57:06: STEMTALK BLURB

57:31: Dawn asks Brianna if administration of ketone esters in the context of moderate carb intake overcomes the alleged problem of reduced PDH activity associated with ketogenic diets. She then asks Brianna if she has measured PDH activity.

58:06: Ken asks Brianna if you could, by use of the ester for an athlete that was in ketosis, have the best of both worlds.

1:00:07: Dawn says that ketone supplementation has a lot of potential to improve the performance of elite athletes. She then asks Brianna if weekend warriors or average recreational athletes can benefit from ketone supplementation.

1:01:21: Ken discusses a study recently conducted in Australia which reported that an acetoacetate diester slightly decreased performance in elite cyclists.

1:04:16: Ken comments that the authors’ speculated that the observed performance decrement was the result of elevated acetoacetate levels, which he noted, does not make sense.  He also noted that all of the study participants experienced GI distress which could easily have accounted for the performance decrement.

1:06:29: Dawn asks Brianna if she thinks this study will further confuse the topic of ketone supplementation.

1:07:37: Ken says that science and religion are two different things, and that particularly in nutrition science and topics related to nutrition, it is an emotional hot button, and people get all spun up about it.

1:08:54: Ken discusses again how many sports are a mixture of aerobic and anaerobic work. He then asks Brianna how athletes will use exogenous ketones in sports with varying degrees of intensity.

1:12:39: Ken comments that it is where the ketogenic diet will have the largest effect for the aging population, both in terms of general wellness and signaling effects, with respect to avoidance of sarcopenia.

1:12:51: Brianna talks about how athletes who are already on a ketogenic diet will use ketone esters.

1:13:47: Ken discusses the increase in BDNF after exercise and a study by Sleiman et al. that showed that HDACs inhibit the production of BDNF. Also, that beta-hydroxybutyrate inhibits HDACS, which would likely increase the production of BDNF. He then asks Brianna if she has any thoughts on whether exogenous ketone ester, such as the HVMN product, might also elevate BDNF.

1:16:00: Ken says that we know that the endogenous ketones have powerful signaling functions, but one of the most fascinating questions is about which of those the ketone ester will provide equivalent or better.

1:17:50: Ken says that it is possible to have high ketone elevations with the ketogenic diet, but it makes it difficult for the people doing the study.

1:22:41: Dawn says that it was noted in a recent paper from a group at UC Davis that ketones, and specifically beta-hydroxybutyrate, potentiated mTOR-1 signaling in skeletal muscle. She then asks Brianna if there is reason to believe this occurs in other tissues or organs of the body, where a potentiating mTOR might not be welcome.

1:23:20: Ken says that they found that it was tissue specific, so the level in the liver was not elevated in that study.

1:24:55: Brianna talks about the public’s response to the launch of the HVMN ketone ester, and gives a rundown of common questions people have been asking.

1:27:51: Brianna shares what her diet is like now that she has retired from competitive rowing.

1:30:42: Ken comments that Mark Mattson discussed intermittent fasting on STEM-Talk on an earlier episode.

1:31:13: Dawn comments that it seems as though most researchers also have a social media presence today, allowing people to collaborate more. She then asks Brianna if she is active on social media.

1:34:02: Ken and Dawn thank Brianna for the interview.

Jan 02 2018

1hr 35mins

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Rank #16: Episode 67: Doug Wallace talks about mitochondria, our human origins and the possibility of mitochondria-targeted therapies

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Today’s guest is Dr. Douglas Wallace, the director of the Center for Mitochondrial and Epigenomic Medicine at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

He is internationally known as the founder of mitochondrial genetics. Mitochondria are tiny structures within cells that produce 90 percent of a person’s energy and play an essential role in health and disease.

Dr. Wallace’s groundbreaking research in the 1970s defined the genetics of DNA within the mitochondria, as distinct from DNA in a cell’s nucleus. His research has shown that mitochondrial DNA is inherited exclusively from the mother and that genetic alterations in the mitochondrial DNA can result in a wide range of metabolic and degenerative diseases.

One of Dr. Wallace’s seminal contributions has been to use a mitochondrial DNA variation to reconstruct human origins and the ancient migrations of women. These studies revealed that humans arose in Africa approximately 200,000 years ago, and that women as well as men left Africa about 65,000 years ago to colonize Eurasia.

Dr. Wallace was inducted last year into the Italian Academy of Sciences during the academy’s 234th annual meeting in Rome. Founded in 1782, membership in the academy is limited to 40 Italian scientists and 25 foreign members. Over the years, the academy has seen such notable members as Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Louis Pasteur and Rita Levi-Montalcini.

Links:

Dr. Wallace’s Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia bio:

https://www.chop.edu/doctors/wallace-douglas-c

 Mitochondrial DNA Variation in Human Radiation and Disease

Wallace Cell Perspective 9-26-15

Mitochondrial DNA Mutation Associated with Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy

Wallace LHON 11778 Science 1988

A Mitochondrial Bioenergetic Etiology of Disease

Wallace JCI Wallace JAMA Psychiatry2017

Association Between Mitochondrial DNA Haplogroup Variation and Autism Disorders

Chalkia_jamapsychiatry_2017

Maternal Inheritance of Human Mitochondrial DNA

Giles Maternal Inheritance 1980

Show notes:

 3:32: Dawn opens the interview by mentioning that Doug grew up exploring the woods outside his neighborhood in the suburbs of Annapolis, Maryland. Dawn asks if his time outdoors sparked his interest in science when he was young.

4:14: Dawn asks Doug what led him to attend Cornell University after graduating from high school.

5:15: Doug talks about his decision to focus on genetics in school.

6:21: Dawn asks Doug how he selected Yale for his graduate studies.

7:49: Ken mentions that mitochondria can be considered bacterial “power-pack” organelles that generate the majority of a cell’s energy, as well as much else. He goes on to say that mitochondria account for about 30 percent of our bodyweight, and that there are roughly 500 trillion of them. He finally points out that despite all this that they are surprisingly under attended to and asks Doug to give listeners a brief mitochondria 101.

13:37: Ken mentions how he’s glad Doug answered the question of how mitochondria ended up losing 99 percent of their original genes, considering that mitochondria used to be free living bacteria with roughly 1,500 genes.

15:25: Dawn points out that Doug and his colleagues are credited with founding the field of human mitochondrial genetics more than 40 years ago.  She then asks if anyone else was doing similar research when Doug started working on human mitochondrial genetics during his post-doc.

17:55: Following his post-doc at Yale, Doug spent seven years at Stanford University School of Medicine. Dawn asks Doug about his work during this time.

22:01: Dawn mentions that in 1983 Doug became the professor of biochemistry, anthropology and pediatrics at Emory University in Atlanta. During this time, he also was chairperson and senior editor of the Mitochondrial DNA Locus-Specific Database for the Human Genome Organization. Dawn asks what that work entailed.

24:11: Ken asks Doug about accepting a professorship of molecular genetics at the University of California, Irvine where he founded the Center for Molecular and Mitochondrial Medicine and Genetics.

26:25: Dawn mentions that in 2010 Doug moved to Philadelphia to become professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Going on to mention that he also became the founding director of the Center for Mitochondrial and Epigenomic Medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). She asks what took Doug to CHOP what sort of work goes on at the center.

28:07: Dawn asks Doug to expand on the work he and his colleagues have done that shows that mitochondrial DNA is inherited exclusively from maternal linage, and that genetic alterations to mitochondrial DNA can result in a wide range of metabolic and degenerative diseases.

31:34: Ken brings up that Doug often talks about how Western medicine has generally approached most diseases from a primarily anatomical and Mendelian perspective, and how it seems that our bioenergetics inheritance has been largely ignored. He asks if this is beginning to change, given the recent attention Doug’s work has gained.

33:53: Ken discusses things from a systems perspective, saying that it stands to reason that as energy availability declinesone would expect to see organ specific symptoms of a systemic defect, asking for Doug to elaborateon this rather sensible perspective when viewed through the lens of energetics.

37:10: Dawn asks Doug to discuss his research into the mutation referred to as, “mtDNA ND6 P25L,” which results in elevated reactive oxygen species production and neurological disease.

45:21: Ken asks Doug to further discuss his work in using mitochondrial DNA variation to trace human migrations and origins.

49:03: Ken mentions how some of his friends submitting genetic material to “23 and Me” and seeing the haplogroups they have inherited from their mother has led to some confusion.

52:23: Dawn asks about the aspect of Doug’s research that suggests that there might have been an ancient European migration to the Americas, a conclusion extrapolated from studying a Native American Tribe in Central North America.

55:49: Dawn mentions the molecular clock, which is essentially the concept that mutations accumulate in a piece of DNA at a roughly constant rate because they occur by chance. She asks about the role of the molecular clock in mapping a population’s history?

58:05: Ken asks if Doug has looked at manipulating cells (when there are some cells with mitochondrial DNA mutations, and some without), to enhance autophagy and thereby get rid of the cells with the mutant mitochondria, and if so, would such interventions like intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet have any benefit in patients.

1:01:23: Ken mentions that interventions such as intermittent fasting inhibit mTOR, asking if this inhibition is sufficient to have a substantial benefit.

1:03:36: Ken asks Doug to dive deeper into the phenomenon of how the high susceptibility of the mitochondrial DNA to mutations, alongside the fact that it is passed only along the maternal lineage, allows for the rapid adaptation to environmental stimuli while also eliminating the majority of detrimental mutations. Ken asks Doug to also talk about how these changes in mitochondrial genes enable animals to adapt swiftly to changing diets and climates.

1:07:18: Shifting gears, Ken asks for Doug’s thoughts on the possibility of life on other planets, and the bacterial basis for mitochondria on earth that allowed for the explosion of complex life on our planet.

1:09:30: Dawn asks Doug to expand on the concept of mitochondrial DNA variations permitting our migrating ancestors to adapt to new environments, and the idea that these adaptations can predispose certain individuals to disease in environments that their mitochondrial DNA isn’t adapted to.

1:12:21: Dawn mentions that Doug and his colleagues at the center are exploring how mitochondrial genes influence adaptation to extremes in our environment, such as artic cold, tropical heat and high altitude. Mentioning thatIHMC does a great deal of work on human performance in extreme conditions, Dawn asks Doug to talk his work in this area.

1:15:00: Ken asks — if it is even possible — if we should attempt to change how coupled we are, given that mitochondrial coupling can affect disease risk.

1:18:05: Dawn asks which haplogroups are at the highest risk for common diseases such as type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and cancer.

1:20:02: Dawn asks if people should be testing their haplogroups to see their susceptibility to certain diseases.

1:21:00: Dawn asks if Doug could talk a bit about his research into the association between mitochondrial DNA haplogroups and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

1:23:18: Dawn asks about Doug’s thoughts on the use of pro-nuclease transfer through three-person IVF, which is a very new and somewhat controversial technique designed to allow mothers with mitochondrial disease to have a baby without passing on that mitochondrial defect.

1:28:49: Ken discusses how mitochondria can no longer be viewed only through the lens of bioenergetics but also as platforms for intracellular signaling, regulators of innate immunity, and modulators of stem cell activity. Each of these properties provides clues as to how mitochondria might regulate aging and age-related diseases. Ken asks Doug to discuss how mitochondria participate in aging and whether a new era of mitochondrial-targeted therapies to potentially slow or reverse the aging process might be in prospect?

1:32:44: Dawn asks if there are any common environmental exposures that are negatively affecting mitochondrial function.

1:34:28: Ken asks Doug if, in addition to exercise, there are any other interventions that he thinks are broadly helpful in regards to improving mitochondrial function.

1:35:49: Dawn discusses how mitochondria produce local electromagnetic fields bymoving electrons as part of their normal function. She asks Doug if he has any thoughts on how external electromagnetic fields, such as those generated by electronics or communication devices, might interfere with mitochondrial function?

1:37:33: Ken mentions that Doug has hypothesized that the Qi and energy fields mentioned and targeted in Chinese medicine may actually be a proxy for mitochondrial phenotype and function. Asking how one might measure these in a human, and how could that affect disease treatment?

1:40:54: Dawn mentions how she is looking forward to seeing what comes out of the institute Doug is working on in China, which is bringing together Western, anatomical perspectives with the concepts found in Chinese Medicine.

1:41:09: Dawn comments on how Doug wasinducted into the Italian Academy of Sciences during the Academy’s 234th annual meeting in Rome. The Academy, founded in 1782, has a mission of encouraging scientific research. With a membership limited to 40 Italian scientists and 25 foreign members, the Academy’s long history, has seen such notable members as Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Louis Pasteur and Rita Levi-Montalcini. She closes the interview by mentioning how rewarding that must have been for Doug.

Jul 03 2018

1hr 44mins

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Rank #17: Episode 41: Dr. David Diamond talks about the role of fat, cholesterol, and statin drugs in heart disease

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Dr. David Diamond is a University of South Florida professor in the departments of psychology, molecular pharmacology and physiology and director of the USF Neuroscience Collaborative.

He is well known for research that looks at the effects of stress on brain, memory and synaptic plasticity. A primary research project over the past few decades has been the study of treatments for combat veterans and civilians with PTSD.

Although his academic specialty is neuroscience, recently he has been closely examining the role of fat and cholesterol in heart disease. He began looking into lipids after test results showed his triglycerides were through the roof.  He also launched a critical look into the effectiveness of statins, a class of drugs doctors frequently prescribe to help people lower cholesterol levels in their blood.

Dr. Diamond’s findings contradicted the low-fat, high-carb diet that he, as well as many Americans, had been advised to follow. This led him to explore ways for people to optimize their diet for cardiovascular health.

He eventually created a graduate and undergraduate seminar entitled, “Myths and Deception in Medical Research.” A lecture he gave at the university entitled “How Bad Science and Big Business Created the Obesity Epidemic” is now a YouTube video with nearly 200,000 views. The lecture focused on how “flawed and deceptive science demonized saturated fats and created the myth that a low-fat, plant-based diet is good for your health.”

Dr. Diamond received his B.S. in biology from the University of California, Irvine in the 1980. He continued his post-graduate work at the university and earned a Ph.D. in biology with a specialization in behavioral neuroscience.

From 1986 to 1997, Dr. Diamond was an assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology in the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver. He then moved to University of South Florida and since 2003 has been a professor in the departments of psychology, molecular pharmacology and physiology.

In addition to directing USF’s Neuroscience Collaborative, Dr. Diamond also is the director of the university’s Center for Preclinical and Clinical Research on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. His research projects at the university have ranged from “The Effects of Stress on Brain, Memory and Synaptic Plasticity” to “The Cognitive and Neurobiological Perspectives on Why Parents Lose Awareness of Children in Cars.”

Dr. Diamond has served on federal government study sections and committees evaluating research on the neurobiology of stress and memory and has more than 100 publications, reviews, and book chapters on the brain and memory. He is a fellow in the American Institute of Stress and in 2015 he received the award for Outstanding Contribution to Science from the Riga Diabetes and Obesity World Congress. In 2015, Diamond also received the University of South Florida International Travel Award.

Links:

USF lecture: “How Bad Science and Big Business Created the Obesity Epidemic” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vr-c8GeT34

IHMC lecture: “An Update on Demonization and Deception in Research of Saturday Fat, Cholesterol and Heart Disease —http://www.ihmc.us/lectures/20170531/

Show notes:

4:31: Ken and Dawn welcome David to the show.

4:42: Dawn comments on how David has always been interested in science and even wanted to be a physician as a child. She also asks him about majoring in biology and receiving his PhD from the University of California, Irvine.

5:41: Dawn asks David about his varied research topics at the University of South Florida, including cognitive and neurobiological perspectives on why parents lose awareness of children in cars.

7:00: Ken asks David what led him to research cardiovascular disease and statins, since he has such an extensive background in memory and PTSD research.

7:46: Dawn mentions David’s lecture he gave at the University South Florida entitled, “How Bad Science and Big Business Created the Obesity Epidemic”.

9:51: Dawn comments on how David and one of his colleagues recently published a review paper showing that statins have failed to substantially improve cardiovascular outcomes, yet so many doctors continue to prescribe this drug.

10:39: Dawn asks David what additional risks he sees with statins.

11:44: Ken asks David to discuss relative risk versus absolute risk calculations, as there is much confusion around that topic.

13:41: Dawn asks David if there are any ongoing trials looking at the degree of cholesterol lowering and clinical outcomes using absolute risk statistics.

14:39: Dawn discusses the two interwoven stories: one of possible statistical deception and describing the putative benefits of statins, and the other issue of whether there are instances where it makes sense for physicians to prescribe statins. Dawn asks David if there are any subsets of patients that he would recommend treating with statins, and asks about patients with hypercholesterolemia.

16:24: Dawn asks David if there are any other subgroups where the use of statins may be defensible.

17:39: Dawn notes that  increased LDL is common in people who start a ketogenic diet while their other biomarkers tend to improve.  She asks David to comment on this observation.

18:45: Ken comments on how cholesterol has been so demonized that a lot of people are not aware that our bodies need cholesterol to synthesize the naturally occurring steroids in our systems. Ken then asks David to give an overview of the role that cholesterol plays in our bodies.

19:42: Dawn asks David to talk about some of the dangers of low LDL.

20:54: Ken comments on how an often overlooked aspect of lipoproteins is their role in the innate immune system. Ken then asks David if the medical community should look at lipoproteins from a bit of a broader perspective than simply looking at them as lipid shuttles and a source of cardiovascular disease risk.

22:24:  Dawn asks David what actually causes heart disease and what people can do to reduce the risk of having a heart attack.

24:44: Dawn asks David what types of diet or exercise approaches would be optimal for improving cardiovascular health.

29:34: Dawn asks David what an ideal ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 is in our diets, and whether or not David thinks this is important.

31:03: Dawn comments on how they have discussed David’s diet and personal routine and asks him what else he incorporates into his personal health regimen.

32:13: Ken asks David what kind of pushback he has received in response to his research findings and lectures.

33:37: STEMTALK BLURB

34:06: Dawn discusses the London Daily Telegram’s story about a group of international experts, including David, who claim that cholesterol does not cause heart disease in the elderly and how trying to reduce it with drugs like statins is a waste of time. The story also points out that these experts’ claims drew immediate skepticism from other academics. Dawn then asks David how he thinks the public deals with conflicting messages like this.

36:25: Ken asks David that assuming his analysis is correct, if he has any thoughts on why errors this large and pervasive continue to persist.

37:14: Ken comments on how we do not often see stories like this in other professions, such as engineering. Ken then asks David what it is about medical research that amends itself to this process.

40:16: Ken comments on how doctors have very prescribed standards of care that they are expected to follow.

41:06: Ken asks David if perhaps the modest benefits of statins could be associated with their recently touted anti-inflammatory properties, rather than primarily their cholesterol lowering effects.

43:07: Dawn comments on how people seem conditioned to think that they can find good health in a pill. She then asks David if this is his experience.

44:00: Dawn notes that in the past people did not place great trust in medicine, however this has certainly changed over time. Dawn then asks David to speculate on why he thinks this is.

45:17: Dawn asks David if it is the right approach when people have an illness or a biomarker that seems wrong and they immediately want to tackle that specific symptom instead of looking at what is causing it.

47:09: Ken asks David if there is any evidence that prescribing statins changes people’s perception of their risk of cardiovascular disease, and thereby changes their behavior in ways that might increase their risk.

48:43: Dawn asks David what he would recommend to patients when their physician says that he or she is going to prescribe statins.

50:10: Dawn asks David what his thoughts are on the effects of statins for exercise performance and muscle strength, in particular how it relates to the aging population.

51:24: Dawn discusses how there seems to be a recent trend to take low doses of a statin drug two to three times a week coupled with zetia. Dawn then asks David what his thoughts are on this, in particular regards to a recent study completed by Johns Hopkins.

53:50: Dawn comments on how there is a greater discussion around precision medicine. She then asks David if there are studies that integrate genetic testing prior to the administration of statins.

55:18: Dawn asks about the Ascot LLA study, the results of which have been promoted extensively through advertising. Dawn asks David to talk about what the results of this study demonstrate and why the study was terminated early.

56:58: Dawn asks David to expand on the Jupiter Study that he discusses in his publication.

57:59: Ken discusses a very new paper titled, Statins for Primary Prevention in Physically Active Individuals: Do the Risks Outweigh the Benefits? The paper examines the potential benefits and adverse events of statins among physically fit individuals, in particular the association of statin use with beneficial cardiovascular outcomes and adverse effects in active duty military personnel. Ken asks David if he has any comments on this paper and its findings.

1:00:51: Ken comments on the new category of drugs called PCSK9 inhibitors. He asks David to talk about this.

1:04:24: Ken asks David to explain how he has been very critical of drug companies in their promotion of statins, yet his neuroscience research has been funded by drug companies.

1:05:25: Dawn asks David what interests he peruses outside of science.

1:06:15: Ken and Dawn thank David for joining them.



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Jul 04 2017

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Rank #18: Episode 94: John Newman discusses how the ketogenic diet and fasting regulate the genes and pathways that control aging

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Our guest today is Dr. John Newman, a geriatrician and researcher who is well-known for a 2017 study that found a ketogenic diet reduced the mid-life mortality of aging mice while also improving their memory and healthspan.

John is an assistant professor at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and a geriatrician in the Division of Geriatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. He also is a physician who works with older adults in the San Francisco VA Medical Center.

At Buck, John studies the molecular details of how diet and fasting regulate the genes and pathways that control aging. He particularly focuses on the ketone body beta-hydroxybutyrate and how its molecular signaling activities involving epigenetics and inflammation regulate aging and memory in mice.

Show notes:

[00:02:51] Dawn opens the interview asking John what it was like growing up in Long Island.

[00:04:20] Dawn mentions that John was described as a pretty geeky kid growing up, and asks him about his childhood.

[00:05:40] Ken asks John if being the type of kid who would do all the homework in his textbooks in the first couple of months annoyed his classmates.

[00:07:34] Dawn asks why John decided to go to Yale University.

[00:08:45] Mentioning that Yale doesn’t have a pre-med program, Dawn asks what John decided to major in.

[00:10:15] John explains how he met his wife at Yale.

[00:11:28] Dawn asks John why he traveled across the country to the University of Washington after graduating from Yale.

[00:12:26] Dawn asks why John decided to focus his graduate work on the progeroid Cockayne syndrome.

[00:14:15] John discusses his decision to go to the University of California, San Francisco for his residency.

[00:16:05] Dawn asks if John immediately joined the faculty at San Francisco after his residency.

[00:17:03] Ken asks John about his work to improve the care of older adults and help them maintain their independence as they age. Ken asks for an overview of the work John and his colleagues do in this area at the Buck Institute

[00:18:39] Ken mentions that a lot of John’s work focuses on the molecular details of how diet and fasting regulate the genes and pathways that control aging. Ken asks John to elaborate on this work.

[00:20:04] Dawn asks what specifically attracted John to the idea of studying the ketogenic diet as an intervention in mid to later life as opposed to a diet consumed habitually throughout life.

[00:23:12] Dawn mentions that John and Eric Verdin, who recruited John to the Buck institute, share an interest in looking at ketone bodies as signaling metabolites, a topic they have written about.

[00:26:21] Ken talks about a conference he and Dawn attended on CBD and seizures, where Ken made the point that ketones are a metabolite of THC.

[00:27:52] Ken asks John to go into more detail about how ketone bodies may link environmental cues such as diet to the regulation of aging.

[00:29:08] Ken talks about how it seems clear that ketone bodies are emerging as crucial regulators of metabolic health and longevity via their ability to regulate HDAC (histone deacetylases) activity and thereby epigenetic gene regulation. He asks John to discuss how beta hydroxybutyrate may be an increasingly useful and important signaling molecule as we age.

[00:34:24] Dawn mentions that John and his colleagues published paper in 2017 in Cell Metabolism titled “Ketogenic Diet Reduces Midlife Mortality and Improves Aging in Mice.” Dawn asks why John chose a cyclical rather than continuous ketogenic diet for this study.

[00:37:56] Dawn asks why John decided to conduct the test of physiological function while the ketogenic diet group was off the diet, and on a standard high-carbohydrate diet.

[00:40:02] Dawn mentions that Megan Roberts and her colleagues at theUniversity of California Davis were also conducting studies on the effects of a ketogenic diet on mice around the same time as John’s study, and that both were published in the same issue of Cell Metabolism. Dawn goes on to mention that Megan was recently interviewed on episode 92 of STEM-Talk where she discussed her paper,  “A Ketogenic Diet Extends the Longevity and Healthspan in Adult Mice.” Dawn adds that both Megan’s and John’s studies had similar findings but that Megan’s had the added caveat that the ketogenic diet may also improve strength and coordination. Dawn asks what John’s takeaways were from Megan’s paper and how do the two papers differ?

[00:44:50] Ken mentions that he is personally looking at the effect of the ketogenic diet as a way to avoid sarcopenia and other aspects of aging.

[00:46:42] John discusses possible reasons why the ketogenic diet has such pleiotropic effects on people suffering from diseases such as type 2 diabetes, epilepsy, inflammation etc.

[00:50:17] Dawn mentions that one of the most frequent criticisms of the diet comes from nutritionists who say “show me the five-year data,” she asks how John would respond to that.

[00:54:25] Ken asks about the “arctic variant” mutation, and how this mutant might affect ketosis. He asks John to describe the mutation and how he thinks it might be affecting ketone metabolism in the Inuit population, and how the scientific community might go about investigating this further.

[01:00:06] Dawn asks if John has used exogenous ketones in his studies.

[01:02:21] Dawn asks what the right overlap between the ketogenic diet and exogenous ketones is, and if exogenous ketones might be synergistic with the ketogenic diet.

[01:04:17] Ken asks if there is a threshold or target blood level of ketones for people on the ketogenic diet and using exogenous ketones.

[01:07:27] Ken mentions that another metabolite that has been shown to affect life span is alpha-ketoglutaric. Ken asks John to speculate as to if the mechanism of life span extension seen here is similar to BHB and if the two might be synergistic.

[01:09:30] Dawn mentions that in addition to his work as a researcher at the Buck institute, John is also a geriatrician who cares for older adults who have been hospitalized at the San Francisco VA Medical Center. Dawn asks what sort of work John does with older individuals.

[01:11:25] John discusses his perspective on the education and training of future geroscientists.

[01:15:01] Dawn asks what the most promising interventions being investigated in geroscience are right now.

[01:23:05] Dawn comments that John has been in the Bay area for more than 10 years, going on to ask if it is true that his main interests outside of work are volleyball baseball and food.

[01:24:46] Ken ends the interview mentioning that a little birdie told him that John is a connoisseur of the San Francisco pastry-shop scene.

Links:

John Newman UCSF bio

Newman Lab website

John Newman ResearchGate profile

Learn more about IHMC

STEM-Talk homepage

Ken Ford bio

Dawn Kernagis bio

Aug 27 2019

1hr 28mins

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Rank #19: Episode 99 : Dave Rabin talks about how psychedelics and wearable devices can help improve people’s lives

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Dr. David Rabin is the chief innovation officer and co-founder of Apollo Neuroscience. He also is the co-inventor of Apollo, a wearable device designed to improve focus, sleep and access to meditative states by gently delivering layered vibrations to the skin.

Dave is a board-certified psychiatrist and translational neuroscientist who for the past decade has been studying resilience and the impact of chronic stress on humans. He received his MD in medicine and Ph.D. in neuroscience from Albany Medical College in Albany, New York. He trained in psychiatry at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Dave also has organized the world’s largest controlled study of psychedelic medicines and is well-known for his research into MDMA and its potential to treat posttraumatic stress disorder along with other disorders.

Show notes

[00:03:06] Dawn opens the interview mentioning that David grew up in California and asking him about an insatiable need he had as a child to understand why people were the way that they were.

[00:04:18] David talks about how the vivid and frequent dreams he had as a child played a role in his decision to study consciousness and neuroscience.

[00:07:33] Dawn mentions that in high school Dave told his father that he wanted to study consciousness; however, Dave’s father suggested that he study something more tangible and quantifiable instead. Dave explains how this led him to spend the summer between his junior and senior year of high school at Rockefeller University.

[00:12:08] Ken asks why Dave decided to move across the country to Albany Medical College, where he received his MD in medicine and Ph.D. in Neuroscience.

[00:14:01] Dave gives an overview of the research he did, while working on his Ph.D., in emotional salience and how people interpret different stimuli as either threatening or safe. An area of research informed by his reading of evolutionary psychology, and the study of touch as an evolutionarily conserved stimulator of the safety pathway.

[00:17:58] Ken asks about how Dave decided to go into psychiatry at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic at the University of Pittsburg Medical Center, where he focused on treatment-resistant mental illnesses.

[00:20:47] Dawn mentions Dave’s work with Greg Siegel. Dawn asks about this work and how it led Dave to become serious about studying consciousness, altered states of consciousness, and the potential use of these altered states to facilitate healing.

[00:24:26] Ken talks about MDMA, or 3,4-Methyl​enedioxy​methamphetamine, a psychoactive drug commonly known as ecstasy or molly.  He explains that MDMA has been shown to facilitate the release of oxytocin, which increases levels of empathy and closeness while dampening fear-related amygdala activity. This results in an overall decrease in stress response and social anxiety. Ken asks Dave to talk about MDMA’s potential to treat PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) along with other disorders.

[00:27:37] Ken asks if Dave has seen any improvements in heart rate variability (HRV) post MDMA treatments.

[00:28:37] Dawn mentions that Dave is part of the world’s largest controlled study of psychedelic medicines. She goes on to explain that these medicines, like LSD and MDMA and even psilocybin, which comes from mushrooms, were used to treat mental and emotional trauma from the 1950s to the ‘70s.  Due to the abuses that occurred during this time, the use as well as research on psychedelic medicines in U.S. were shut down. With a shift towards a renewed interest in these medicines, Dawn asks about this study and if Dave could give a background on psychedelic medicine.

[00:32:34] Dave talks about the epigenetic trial, being conducted in phase three of the MDMA study, where DNA samples are collected before and after use, to determine the epigenetic regulation of stress-response genes.

[00:41:30] Ken asks about psilocybin, which is a naturally occurring psychedelic produced by more than 200 species of mushrooms. Ken asks Dave to explain how psilocybin is different from MDMA, both chemically and experientially.

[00:45:45] Dave discusses the use of ecstasy and the debate around the safety of MDMA, and how compared to stimulants such as cocaine, amphetamine and methamphetamine, addiction to MDMA is very rare.

[00:48:47] Dawn explains that psychedelics are, to this day, illegal in the U.S., and further states that STEM-Talk is not advocating the use of these or any illegal substances, before asking Dave about the changing legal status of psychedelics.

[00:49:51] Dawn asks about the use of cannabidiol (CBD) for management of symptoms for illnesses such as PTSD and pain-management.

[00:54:17] Ken mentions that Dave has spent the last several years developing a technology called Apollo, which is intended to help people make changes more effectively. Given the research and study Dave has done into stress, meditation and athletic performance, and why some people are more resilient than others, Ken asks Dave what he has learned from all this and how it led to the Apollo technology.

[00:57:31] Ken asks if the hypervigilance people have to text alerts and emails and phone vibrations and news alerts and the constant bombardment of noise and stimuli is conditioning our bodies to be in a hyper-stressed state all the time.

[00:59:26] Ken asks how to retrain the nervous system to become more balanced between our sympathetic and parasympathetic symptoms without the use of psychedelics.

[01:02:37] Dawn asks about cognitive patterns and the way people think about their lives, such as the tendency to take challenges personally and think “why me?” while others tend to see challenges as an opportunity for growth.

[01:05:35] Dave talks about heart-rate variability (HRV) and why he considers it one of the more important findings about resilience that has been made in the past 15 years.

[01:09:19] Dawn asks what a good range for HRV is, or if there is a significant degree of variation across healthy people.

[01:10:31] Dave explains the Apollo wearable device in depth, and how and why it works.

[01:11:57] Ken asks if there have been pilot studies with children for the Apollo device.

[01:14:14] Dawn mentions that Dave’s wife Kathryn was the one who came up with the idea to create the company Apollo Neuroscience. Dave tells the story behind that.

[01:15:37] Ken mentions that David and Kathryn are in in the process of launching Apollo, and that the devices will start shipping in January.

[01:15:50] Dawn asks, given Dave’s study of stress and the pervasiveness of technology in our modern world and its role in our levels of stress, how he deals with stress on a day-to-day basis.

[01:18:12] Dawn mentions that Dave went to work for his wife this last year and asks, aside from their working relationship, what the two of them do for fun.

Links:

Dave Rabin bio

Learn more about IHMC

STEM-Talk homepage

Ken Ford bio

Dawn Kernagis bio

Nov 26 2019

1hr 21mins

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Rank #20: Episode 69: David LeMay talks about countering inflammation with SPMs

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Dr. David LeMay is a sports medicine and rehabilitation physician who is a consultant for the NBA’s Washington Wizards, the NFL’s Oakland Raiders and the National Hockey League’s Washington Capitals, which won the Stanley Cup this year, their first in the franchise history.

Dave is also a neighbor of ours in Pensacola who has a practice called Lifestyle and Performance Medicine that is located just a few blocks from IHMC.

Dave and his practice partner provide personalized preventative care that helps people reduce the effects of stress on the body and mind to maximize function and health. In his practice, Dave works with a lot of athletes as well as retired and active military members, particularly people in special-ops, who have inflammation as a result of persistent injuries and traumas.

Dave often recommends specialized pro-resolving mediators, also known as SPMs, which help promote the natural termination of the inflammation process and allow a person to avoid anti-inflammatory drugs. We will especially be talking with Dave about this rather new way of treatment in today’s interview.

Some other topics we cover in Dave’s interview:

  • Neuroendocrine dysfunction, especially among military veterans.
  • The role of inflammation in concussions and traumatic brain injuries.
  • Dave’s work with the NFL Players Association Trust.
  • The role of specialized pro-resolving mediators in an aging population.
  • The proper dosage of SPMs for subacute inflammation.
  • Dave’s efforts to improve the diets of former NFL players.
  • The key components of keeping athletes healthy through an entire season.
  • The correlation between heath-rate variability and athletic performance.
  • Proper sideline protocols for players who sustain head injuries.
  • Optimal treatment for people who suffer TBI and concussions.
  • Establishing baselines for a person’s neuroendocrine function.
  • The role of DHA and EPA consumption for maintaining optimal brain health.
  • And much, much more.

Show notes:

[00:04:18] Dave begins the interview talking about growing up in Reno, Nevada, and playing sports non-stop as a kid.

[00:4:35] Dawn comments on how Dave’s love of sports lead to some injuries, including a few broken fingers and torn ligaments, and says she understands that this is how Dave first became interested in science.

[00:05:31] Dawn asks Dave about his decision to head to California after high school to attend Azusa Pacific University.

[00:06:37] Dawn asks what lead Dave back home to attend med school at the University of Reno.

[00:07:13] Ken asks Dave at what point he decided to specialize in physical medicine and rehabilitation.

[00:08:33] Dawn mentions that the University of Texas Health Science Center has one of the best physical medicine and rehab programs in the country. She asks Dave if this was the reason he decided to go there for his residency.

[00:09:21] Ken comments on how after Dave’s residency, he stayed in Austin for almost a year. But then Dave moved Pensacola and Ken asks how that came about.

[00:11:04] Dawn asks about Dave’s private practice, called Lifestyle and Performance Medicine, which he and his partner opened in 2013 after their time at the Andrews Institute.

[00:11:27] Ken points out that veterans, and some active-duty folks, particularly those with special operations backgrounds, comprise about half of Dave’s practice. Ken says he understands Dave has seen a great deal of neuroendocrine dysfunction in this group, and asks Dave for his observations.

[00:12:56] Ken mentions that Dave is the medical director for a program that is run through the NFL Players Association Trust. He asks Dave to describe the type of rehab that this program provides the former NFL players.

[00:14:54] Dawn comments on the concept of inflammation being a unifying component of many diseases that afflict Western Civilization, and how it is also a major contributor to the magnitude and persistence of different sports injuries and traumas. She asks Dave to talk about inflammation, and specifically its role in concussion and TBI, as well as give a brief overview of what inflammation is.

[00:17:51] Dawn mentions how Dave has been looking at how targeting inflammation may serve as a therapeutic way to also treat fear- and anxiety-based disorders.

[00:20:34] Ken asks if the process of EPA and DHA conversion into SPM’s through an enzymatic process diminishes in its efficiency as one ages.

[00:21:18] Ken asks if Dave thinks there is a role for exogenous SPM’s for the aging population.

[00:22:13] Ken asks if there is a particular SPM brand, or collection of brands, that Dave finds to be the most interesting or efficacious.

[00:23:01] Ken asks what dosage would Dave suggest for subacute inflammation, and what would be proper for an acute inflammation stage. He goes on to ask about those people who experience a constant, mildly inflamed state.

[00:24:52] Ken asks how Dave wound up working as a consultant for the NBA’s Washington Wizards, the NFL’s Oakland Raiders, and the National Hockey League’s Washington Capitals, who won the Stanley cup this year.

[00:26:35] Dawn mentions that Dave has been on the Performance Nutrition Advisory Board for EXOS for several years. She points out that one of the things Dave does when working with former NFL players is to walk them through ways to improve their diet.

[00:28:19] Dawn asks what are the key components to keep athletes healthy, playing at a peak level throughout an entire season.

[00:30:48] Ken asks if Dave ever looks at heart rate variability (HRV) as a way to measure the extent to which people are in a balanced state.

[00:31:23] Ken mentions that the Ohio State wrestling team looked at HRV very closely, and that there has been found to be a direct correlation between the performance of the athletes and their HRV. He goes on to mention that in his own life, as well as with the wrestlers at Ohio State, the thing that seems to be the most effective in improving HRV is float tank experience.

[00:32:55] Ken asks what the immediate and delayed symptoms of concussion and mild traumatic brain injury are that players experience, and what are the types of treatment that they typically go through?

[00:35:15] Ken asks if, after an injury, coaches are still asking players on the sidelines questions like, “Who is the President?”

[00:39:12] Ken mentions how he often wonders how much of the benefit of the float tank is from the transdermal magnesium.

[00:40:01] Dawn asks if there are any efforts to track TBI in professional hockey, given that concussion is a concern in that sport with its high-speed pace and consequent impacts sustained by players during the game.

[00:42:00] Dawn mentions how she appreciates Dave’s approach to TBI and concussion, which is to try to fix the issue from the inside out by getting at the core of the injury. She goes on to mention that Dave has discussed the need for individuals who have been diagnosed with TBI to see someone who practices something along the lines of integrated medicine to have a full system approach to their treatment. She inquires as to what an optimal care plan would look like for someone diagnosed with TBI

[00:46:16] Ken mentions that in the Special Ops community, there is a lot of talk about establishing an individual baseline for each person’s neuroendocrine function since these men, prior to service, must have had robust levels of hormones such as testosterone, leading to their exceptional attributes and abilities. Thus the idea of determining their health by comparing their levels to what is considered “normal” for the general population doesn’t seem appropriate for this cohort group.

[00:50:42] Dawn asks if Dave thinks that increasing DHA and EPA consumption would be beneficial for TBI patients.

[00:52:06] Ken mentions how he once had the opportunity to suggest to a representative of the NFL that they should look at the APOE status for every player, and make the findings known to them. He went on to state that this suggestion was not warmly received.

[00:55:13] Dawn comments on how there has been a potential link, suggested by the recent literature, between the uptake of DHA, an SPE precursor, and Alzheimer’s disease or dementia development. She goes on to mention a study done in 2017 that showed grey matter uptake in young adult APOE4 carriers is significantly higher than age-matched APOE4 non-carriers. APOE genotype has been shown to be a significant risk factor for development of Alzheimer’s.  The thought is that increased uptake may be related to increased regional brain activation and higher cognitive abilities observed in young adult APOE4 carriers. As these young adults age, the hypothesis is that this greater uptake of DHA, which yields cognitive benefits at a younger age, also increases susceptibility to greater brain DHA loss due to increased metabolic demands and ultimately brain exhaustion and memory failure with age. Based on these and other recent findings, it has been suggested that APOE4 carriers should increase DHA consumption in order to meet the greater metabolic demand for DHA in the brain, and other clinical trials have reported cognitive benefits from increasing DHA consumption in cognitively healthy APOE4 carriers. Dawns asks Dave for his thoughts on the role of DHA or EPA consumption for maintaining or optimizing brain health?   Or, she adds, would SPMs be more efficacious?

[01:01:30] Dawn asks Dave what the role of genotyping will be in optimizing our nutrition, fitness, and overall wellness.

[01:07:50] Ken asks what some of the common deficiencies and recommendations are for people who have trouble falling asleep, and also for those who have trouble staying asleep.

[01:11:09] Dawn ends the interview asking Dave how he goes about taking care of himself, given his busy schedule, in terms of his diet and fitness routine.

Links:

Regenesis Performance website

Concussion presentation by David LeMay

Sports Nutrition presentation by David LeMay

DHA brain uptake and APOE4 status

Resolution of inflammation is altered in Alzheimer’s disease

Infection regulates pro-resolving mediators that lower antibiotic requirements

Resolvins, specialized pro-resolving lipid mediators and their potential roles in metabolic diseases

Pro-resolving lipid mediators are leads for resolution physiology

Specialized pro-resolving mediators from omega-3 fatty acids improve amyloid-b phagocytosis & regulate inflammation in patients with minor cognitive impairment

Pro-resolving lipid mediators and mechanisms in the resolution of acute inflammation

Jul 31 2018

1hr 16mins

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Episode 108: Ken and Dawn tackle questions ranging from AI to amino acids to methylene blue to ketosis to COVID-19

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Because of the number of questions that keep pouring in, today we have another Ask Me Anything episode.  We also have been receiving requests to do more of these shows, so we plan to record more frequent AMA episodes in the future. If you have questions for Ken and Dawn, email them to STEM-Talk producer Randy Hammer at rhammer@ihmc.us.

In today’s episode we touch a little bit on COVID-19, but most questions revolve around diet and sleep and brain health. Ken also explains the meaning behind IHMC’s name and Dawn shares why she tweaked her vegetarian lifestyle to now include fish in her diet. Plus, Ken weighs in on the dangers of AI, real and imagined. It’s a fun, wide-ranging episode. Enjoy!

Show notes:

[00:02:28] Dawn opens the AMA with a listener question for Ken about his thoughts on social distancing.

[00:03:19] A listener asks Dawn about the long-term pulmonary effects for survivors of COVID-19, and how this will impact divers.

[00:04:49] Dawn reads a listener question for Ken about the U.S. relationship with China in regards to drug manufacturing: “During your interview with Katherine Eban, you made a comment about how current events related to COVID-19 truly highlight the fault in our dependency on Chinese manufacturing for our pharmaceuticals. That was just a few months ago…Where do you see our relationship with China heading with respect to drug manufacturing in the future?”

{00:06:54] Ken talks about the need for each individual to take responsibility for the pharmaceuticals they ingest and recommends listening to Katherine’s Eban’s STEM-Talk interview and checking out her website, which has a wealth of information about generic drugs.

[00:07:19] A listener asks Dawn about her shift from strict vegetarianism to occasionally adding fish into her diet. The listener wonders if this came about as a result of some of the discussions on STEM-Talk, or if her decision was inspired by something else?

[00:09:07] A listener asks Ken if he uses branch chain amino acids, and if so how?

[00:11:52] Ken talks about how combining essential amino-acid supplementation with mechanical loading via resistance training is a powerful strategy to combat the age-related loss of muscle function and mass that often leads to sarcopenia in the older population.

[00:14:45] Dawn poses a listener’s question to Ken about why nutritionists seem to almost unanimously tolerate intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating, but oppose the ketogenic diet. The listener goes on to ask if there is any difference between getting into ketosis through diet versus fasting.

[00:17:30] A listener asks Ken, who was an early adopter of a low-carb ketogenic diet, how his understanding of low-carb and healthy diets has changed as research has progressed.

[00:19:25] A listener talks about how their adoption of time-restricted eating has led to late-night binge eating. The listener asks if it is true that skipping breakfast makes it harder to suppress ghrelin, sometimes referred to as “the hunger hormone.” The listener is curious about this because so many STEM-Talk guests talk about how they skip breakfast.

[00:22:45] A listener asks Dawn: “In your podcast with Francisco Gonzalez-Lima, you talked about the potential role of methylene blue in protecting individuals exposed to environmental hypoxia. Do you know of any studies that have looked at this potential application of methylene blue?”

[00:26:05] A listener asks Ken about adding legumes back into one’s diet after losing weight through the ketogenic diet, and if the weight will return if legumes are reintroduced.

[00:29:20] A listener asks how Ken came up with the name “Institute for Human and Machine Cognition,” and what all the name entails?

[00:30:51] A listener asks Dawn about the replication of extreme environments in a lab setting when studying human performance in various extreme environments.

[00:34:56] A listener asks Ken: “There was some recent news coverage about how tanks are being driven by artificial intelligence and how machine guns are being equipped with facial recognition software…As I listened to the interview that Dawn did with you a while back, you said you didn’t agree with Elon Musk’s rather dark vision of rogue robots going around killing people…I’m curious if your thoughts about weaponized robots and the dangers of AI have changed over the past couple of years. And what do you see as the future?”

[00:37:14] In responding to a listener’s question about the best ways to improve a person’s mental health, Ken recommends throwing away your TV, limiting your time on social media, taking walks in forests, get better sleep, have more sex, and listen to STEM-Talk. He goes on to expand on some of these ideas.

[00:38:27] A listener asks if Ken has ever used the Ooler sleep device, and if so, what does he think of it?

[00:39:32] Dawn answers a listener’s question about what her research into the brain’s lymphatic system in extreme environments is yielding.

[00:41:54] A listener asks Ken to elaborate on a speech he gave in which he said people should strive to be better animals. Ken explains what he meant and adds that people should also recognize and embrace that we are all part of the animal kingdom.

[00:42:56] A listener mentions that there are several activity and sleep-tracking devices in the form of a ring, and that during the Peter Attia episode, Ken and Peter discussed the Oura ring and another ring that Ken said he was evaluating. The listener asks about the results of that evaluation.

[00:46:59] Ken asks Dawn if it’s true that you have better glymphatic function when you sleep on your side?

[00:47:52] A listener asks how the collection of health-related data via smartphones and wearables will impact the diving community. The listener goes on to ask if Dawn sees the diving community moving toward collecting such physiological parameters to define such things as decompression.

[00:50:14] Ken asks Dawn about underwater eye-tracking studies.

[00:51:32] Dawn closes the AMA with a listener’s question about natural sleep aids to maintain healthy sleep during the COVID-19 crisis and the disruption of sleep schedules that many people are experiencing in quarantine.

Learn more about IHMC

STEM-Talk homepage

Ken Ford bio

Dawn Kernagis bio

Jun 23 2020

58mins

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Episode 107: Francisco Gonzalez-Lima discusses methylene blue and near-infrared light as therapies for cognitive disorders

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Today we have part two of our interview with Dr. Francisco Gonzalez-Lima, a behavioral neuroscientist at The University of Texas at Austin.

Francisco and his colleagues at the Gonzalez-Lima Lab are recognized as world leaders for their research on the relationship between brain energy metabolism, memory and neurobehavioral disorders.

Today’s interview focuses on two interventions Francisco has explored with the aim of protecting people against neurodegeneration: low-dose methylene blue and the application of near-infrared light. Part one of our interview, episode 106, touched on Francisco’s youth and training as well as his early research into Alzheimer’s disease and brain-metabolic mapping.

Over the years, much of Francisco’s brain research has focused on transcranial lasers, memory enhancement, neuroprotection, neurocognitive disorders. Current research in the Gonzalez-Lima Lab focuses on the beneficial neurocognitive and emotional effects of noninvasive human brain stimulation in healthy, aging and mentally ill populations. This research primarily uses transcranial infrared laser stimulation and multimodal imaging.

Show notes:

Today we have part two of our interview with Dr. Francisco Gonzalez-Lima, a behavioral neuroscientist at The University of Texas at Austin.

Francisco and his colleagues at the Gonzalez-Lima Lab are recognized as world leaders for their research on the relationship between brain energy metabolism, memory and neurobehavioral disorders.

Today’s interview focuses on two interventions Francisco has explored with the aim of protecting people against neurodegeneration: low-dose methylene blue and the application of near-infrared light. Part one of our interview, episode 106, touched on Francisco’s youth and training as well as his early research into Alzheimer’s disease and brain-metabolic mapping.

Over the years, much of Francisco’s brain research has focused on transcranial lasers, memory enhancement, neuroprotection, neurocognitive disorders. Current research in the Gonzalez-Lima Lab focuses on the beneficial neurocognitive and emotional effects of noninvasive human brain stimulation in healthy, aging and mentally ill populations. This research primarily uses transcranial infrared laser stimulation and multimodal imaging.

[00:04:15] Ken begins part two of our interview mentioning he would like to talk about low-dose methylene blue and the application of near-infrared light. Ken explains that Both of these interventions act by a similar cellular mechanism that targets mitochondrial respiration via the electron transport chain. Ken asks Francisco to describe for listeners what the electron transport chain is and why it is important to the function of the mitochondria.

[00:08:22] Dawn asks what the clinical signs and symptoms of unhealthy mitochondrial function are, and what are markers of good mitochondrial health.

[00:11:41] Francisco gives an overview of the drug methylene blue, and its mechanism of action.

[00:15:02] Ken asks about the origin and history of methylene blue.

[00:17:19] Dawn asks about the potential use of methylene blue as treatment for traumatic brain injury.

[00:21:10] Ken asks how methylene blue might stimulate neurogenesis.

[00:22:42] Dawn mentions that acute brain injury such as stroke and traumatic brain injury involves the upregulation of multiple stress-related responses, she asks how the addition of a hermetic stressor such as methylene blue alters this process. She goes on to ask if there would be an optimal window of time to administer this drug relative to the injury for optimal recovery of function.

[00:23:48] Ken asks if methylene blue could be used by an individual before they engage in something that is likely to lead to brain damage, such as boxing, sports, or military operations.

[00:26:32] Ken asks about the future of methylene blue in the treatment and prevention of neurodegeneration.

[00:29:37] Ken asks if compounding pharmacies are producing oral forms of methylene blue.

[00:32:17] Francisco addresses the issue of oral versus intravenous administration of methylene blue, and if there is an optimal mode of administration for brain targeted therapy.

[00:36:15] Dawn asks about the potential use of methylene blue to protect against radiation poisoning.

[00:38:32] Francisco explains how the beneficial effects of transcranial lasers were discovered.

[00:42:11] Ken mentions that transcranial absorption of photon energy up-regulates cortical cytochrome oxidase and enhances oxidative phosphorylation. Low level near-infrared light improves prefrontal cortex-related cognitive functions, such as sustained attention, extinction memory, working memory, and affective state.  Ken asks Francisco to talk about the use of near infrared light as a targeted treatment for cognitive decline and neurodegenerative disorders.

[00:45:37] Dawn mentions that Francisco’s work and that of others suggests that low-level laser therapy stimulates the production of mitochondrial matrix water, which is depleted in deuterium. Dawn asks if this deuterium depletion could result in enhanced genomic stability and epigenetic effects.

[00:48:00] Ken asks about the use of methylene blue and ketone esters for performance in elite warfighters.

[00:49:08] Dawn brings up the Neurotherapy Effectiveness and Safety Trial (NEST), a clinical trial which successfully used laser therapy to treat acute stroke patients. She goes on to mention that the phase III of the trial was suspended at the half-way point due to lack of significance. Francisco talks about these trials and why they didn’t end up being successful.

[00:51:22] Ken asks Francisco how quickly transcranial laser therapy can alter mood or cognition.

[00:51:47] Ken asks what Francisco’s thoughts are on whole-body low-level laser therapy, such as Erchonia’s system, for musculoskeletal pain or the NovoTHOR pod.

[00:52:29] Ken asks how does one develop a dosing protocol for near-infrared light, and if overuse of commercially available low-level laser therapy units lead to side effects or unfavorable responses.

[00:53:31] Dawn asks if there are nutritional, medicinal, or other strategies that could be synergistic with either near infrared light or methylene blue.

[00:54:38] Dawn mentions that both methylene blue and various cranial laser therapy devices are available commercially online. She asks if these are comparable with what has been used for research and if these procedures are ready for at-home use by the general public.

[00:56:14] Francisco closes the interview explaining why he describes himself as a survivor and someone who is a testament to the American dream.

Links:

Francisco Gonzalez-Lima bio

Gonzalez-Lima Lab

Learn more about IHMC

STEM-Talk homepage

Ken Ford bio

Dawn Kernagis bio

May 26 2020

58mins

Play

Episode 106: Francisco Gonzalez-Lima talks about brain metabolic mapping and Alzheimer’s

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Our guest today is Dr. Francisco Gonzalez-Lima, a professor in the department of psychology, pharmacology and toxicology and the department of psychiatry at The University of Texas at Austin. He also is a professor at the university’s Institute for Neuroscience.

We covered so much ground in our discussion with Francisco that we have split his interview into two parts. Today’s interview focuses on Francisco’s fascinating background as a youth and Cuban expatriate as well as his early research into Alzheimer’s Disease and brain metabolic mapping. The second part of our interview, which follows in a few weeks, covers two interventions Francisco has been exploring with the aim of protecting people against neurodegeneration: low-dose methylene blue and the application of near-infrared light.

Francisco describes himself as a behavioral neuroscientist. He and his colleagues at the Gonzalez-Lima Lab are recognized as world leaders for their research on the relationship between brain energy metabolism, memory and neurobehavioral disorders.

Although he has spent most of his academic career at the University of Texas, Francisco has been a visiting neuroscientist in Germany, England, Canada and Spain, and has delivered more than 120 lectures around the world about his brain research. He also has contributed work to more than 300 scientific publications.

Over the years, Francisco’s brain research has focused on transcranial lasers, memory enhancement, neuroprotection and neurocognitive disorders. Current research in the Gonzalez-Lima laboratory focuses on the beneficial neurocognitive and emotional effects of noninvasive human brain stimulation in healthy, aging and mentally ill populations. This research primarily uses transcranial infrared laser stimulation and multimodal imaging.

Show notes:

[00:03:23] Dawn opens the interview mentioning that Francisco was born in Cuba where his father worked as a veterinarian. Dawn asks how Francisco’s family ended up leaving Cuba for Costa Rica when he was only ten years old.

[00:04:25] Ken asks if it is true that Francisco got into a lot of fights as a child.

[00:05:19] Francisco talks about his time as a child accompanying his veterinarian father to take care of cattle.

[00:06:46] Dawn asks about Francisco’s time in college, two years of which he spent in Venezuela, and how he became known as an anti-communist student leader on campus.

[00:08:18] Francisco tells the story of how he ended up going to school at Tulane University.

[00:09:13] Dawn mentions that because Francisco’s father was a veterinarian, Francisco went to Tulane with the intent of working with animals. But after watching a professor dissect a human brain in class one day, Francisco changed his major.

[00:10:17] Ken asks Francisco what lead him to decide to get a bachelor’s degree in biology and psychology.

[00:11:49] Dawn asks about Francisco’s work with Nobel Prize winner Dr. Andrew Schalley during Francisco’s last summer at Tulane.

[00:12:56] Francisco explains how he ended up of the University of Puerto Rico getting his doctorate in anatomy and neurobiology.

[00:14:28] Dawn asks Francisco how learning about electrophysiology in his doctoral studies had an impact on him.

[00:15:22] Francisco tells an interesting story of his doctoral dissertation.

[00:16:21] Dawn asks about Francisco’s work with Dr. Walter Stiehl and the papers the two of them published in the European Journal of Pharmacology.

[00:17:19] Dawn mentions that in 1981 Francisco met Henning Scheich, a German professor who had done a study involving the newly developed 2-deoxyglucose autoradiographic method. Francisco talks about why this neuroimaging approach to brain research fascinated him and led him to propose an ambitious collaborative research project with Dr. Scheich.

[00:18:27] Dawn asks Francisco to talk about the work he did with Dr. Scheich to develop the human FDG (fluorodeoxyglucose) neuroimaging method, the first functional brain imaging technique to be used in humans.

[00:19:58] Ken asks Francisco to explain the difference between functional studies and imaging studies.

[00:21:18] Dawn asks about how Francisco met a group of Texas professors at a conference in Madrid, which lead him to join the new College of Medicine at Texas A&M.

[00:22:35] Dawn mentions that in 1991, the University of Texas at Austin recruited Francisco to join its new Institute for Neuroscience and the Department of Psychology.

[00:23:32] Dawn asks about the research Francisco and his colleagues are doing in the Gonzalez-Lima lab.

[00:24:11] Ken asks what Francisco means when he describes himself as a behavioral neuroscientist.

[00:25:13] Dawn asks about Francisco’s work on the neuroimaging effects of Pavlovian conditioning.

[00:27:45] Dawn asks about the work Francisco did on habituation and sensitization.

[00:29:57] Ken mentions that the brain is designed to handle large amounts of communication and computation. He asks if Francisco can elaborate on this concept.

[00:31:10] Ken asks Francisco to describe the redundant structures of the brain.

[00:33:35] Dawn turns the discussion to Alzheimer’s Disease, mentioning we still don’t fully grasp how the brain works.

[00:35:12] Dawn mentions that in 2001 Francisco published a paper titled “Energy Hypometabolism in Posterior Cingulate Cortex of Alzheimer’s Patients: Superficial Laminar Cytochrome Oxidase Associated with Disease Duration.” The main histochemical finding of this study was that the decreased ration or the gravity of Alzheimer’s Disease was not related to any of the other things that were commonly mentioned like amyloid or tau proteins. Francisco gives an overview of this study and its significance.

[00:39:32] Ken asks if ketone uptake in the brain diminishes some cases of Alzheimer’s or TBI.

[00:41:18] Ken mentions Steven Cunane’s STEM-Talk interview and the work he has done work using neuroimaging to see if it’s possible to replace the energy lost from the glucose deficit with exogenous ketones.

[00:42:11] Ken asks about the early signs of Alzheimer’s Disease.

[00:45:27] Ken asks about the vascular hypothesis of Alzheimer’s Disease.

[00:48:16] Dawn mentions that in the past few years, there has been a lot of coverage in the media about Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease. She goes on to say that Francisco has pointed out in past interviews that EOAD is a rare genetic disease that is causally different than the most common geriatric dementia that is mistakenly called Alzheimer’s or late onset AD. Francisco discusses how this confusion has been an obstacle in advancing research.

[00:52:24] Dawn gives a preview of part two of our interview with Francisco, which will upload in a few weeks.

Links:

Francisco Gonzalez-Lima bio

Gonzalez-Lima Lab

Learn more about IHMC

STEM-Talk homepage

Ken Ford bio

Dawn Kernagis bio

Apr 29 2020

53mins

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Episode 105: Art De Vany talks about healthspan, lifespan and healing the wounds of aging

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Our guest today is Dr. Arthur De Vany, who we interviewed three years ago on episode 30 of STEM-Talk. Art, who is perhaps best known as one of the founders of the Paleo movement, is the author of “The New Evolution Diet: What Our Paleolithic Ancestors Can Teach Us About Weight Loss, Fitness and Aging.”

Art is a professor emeritus of economics at the University of California, Irvine. In our first interview, we talked to Art about his early research into the economics of the movie business and how he created mathematical and statistical models to precisely describe the motion-picture market.

In today’s interview, Art talks to us about the new book he’s working on that’s tentatively titled, “The Youthful Brain—A Revolutionary Program to protect the Brain, Extend Youthfulness and Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease.”

The book is a continuation of Art’s ongoing study of the human body and brain and offers his strategies for preventing brain deterioration and maintaining a healthy, lean body.

Show notes:

[00:03:13] Dawn opens the interview mentioning that it has been three years since Art’s first appearance on the podcast. She asks Art what it is about the modern Western lifestyle that sends so many people to an early grave.

[00:05:42] Dawn asks about Art’s discovery that the world’s healthiest, long-living individuals typically have low insulin.

[00:07:44] Ken mentions that Art is working on a new book that will look at brain-body signaling and provide strategies for preventing brain deterioration and maintaining a healthy lean body. Art talks about how we originally planned to write about aging, but that most aging research is bull and that nobody really understands what it is. He explains that in his mind aging is basically a directed random walk into entropy.

[00:10:11] Ken asks about one of Art’s key points, that Alzheimer’s disease and many other diseases of neural degeneration and cognitive decline are largely metabolic diseases compounded by loss of muscle mass and stem-cell exhaustion.

[00:13:09] Dawn asks about the evolution of the human brain, and how the most recent additions to the brain are the most dependent on glucose metabolism.

[00:14:22] Dawn mentions that synapses are essential to neuronal function, as they are the means by which neurons communicate signals. She asks Art to expand on the comment he made in his recent lecture at IHMC stating that “synapses are forever young but in ever need of support and protection.”

[00:16:29] Ken asks about the lactate shuttle hypothesis, which is based on the observation that lactate is formed and utilized continuously in diverse cells under both anaerobic and aerobic conditions.

[00:18:51] Dawn mentions the role of mitochondria, and how when they are not working the way they should that cells and tissues of our body become starved for energy, forcing us to rely on anaerobic metabolism. This results in a number of issues. She asks Art what we can do to maintain healthy mitochondria over our lifespan.

[00:21:25] Art gives advice for reprograming the metabolism of the aging brain.

[00:22:35] Ken asks about mTOR from an evolutionary perspective and why people have so many concerns regarding its role in cancer and degenerative disease.

[00:24:35] Art explains his view of aging as the “failure of a renewal program,” and why aging is not programmed.

[00:26:35] Dawn mentions that she has heard that Art eats just two meals a day, an early breakfast and dinner, to create a long interval between meals so his body can maintain low-insulin signaling. She asks how this brings on the defensive and repair pathways.

[00:28:52] Ken asks about Art’s exercise routine and why he prefers fasted exercise.

[00:30:46] Dawn asks about the importance of sleep, if Art still takes melatonin to help with his sleep, and what advice he has for people in terms of getting good sleep.

[00:32:56] Dawn mentions that Art has commented that physically and genetically we are built to run fast and climb trees, but given the state of the modern world she asks what is the best way to stay physically fit if we are not allowed to regularly do those things that we evolved to do.

[00:35:47] Ken asks for Art’s thoughts on why we have seen the loss of mass in the human brain, particularly in the hippocampus.

[00:41:44] Ken asks about the role of oxytocin in preserving brain mass.

[00:43:02] Dawn points out that Art is 82 years old. If aging is indeed a random walk into entropy, she asks Art what he considers a reasonable expectation is in terms of human lifespan.

[00:43:50] Dawn mentions that Art has in the past said that he was 78 years old when he first started thinking about aging.  Given that most people start having those thoughts in their 60s, she asks why it took him so long.

[00:44:55] Ken closes the interview asking Art what advice he would give to his younger self.

Links:

Art De Vany Amazon page

Learn more about IHMC

STEM-Talk homepage

Ken Ford bio

Dawn Kernagis bio

Apr 07 2020

47mins

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Episode 104:  Katherine Eban talks about the dangers associated with relying on generic drugs manufactured overseas

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Today’s interview is with Katherine Eban, an investigative journalist who uncovered the widespread fraud that goes on overseas in the manufacturing of U.S. generic drugs.

With the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus, which originated in China but is now spreading across the globe and United States, today’s interview is especially timely. Katherine’s recent book, “Bottle of Lies,” reveals that nearly 80 percent of the active ingredients of all brand-name and generic drugs as well as almost all of our antibiotics in the U.S. are made outside of the country, mostly in China and India. Today’s interview highlights the dangers Americans face in outsourcing the quality and safety of its brand-name and generic drugs to overseas manufacturers.

Katherine is an investigative journalist who has written award-winning stories that range from pharmaceutical counterfeiting to gun trafficking to even coercive interrogations by the CIA. Her first book, “Dangerous Doses: A True Story of Cops, Counterfeiters and the Contamination of America’s Drug Supply,” was named one of the Best Books of 2005 by Kirkus Reviews.

“Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom” is a New York Times bestseller that came out in 2019 and was named one of the top 100 notable books of 2019 by the Times.

Show notes:

[00:03:16] Dawn opens the interview mentioning Katherine’s appearance on Peter Attia’s podcast.

[00:04:30] Ken asks how Katherine how she ended up living just three subway stops from where she grew up in Brooklyn.

[00:05:01] Katherine talks about how despite her talent and interest in writing, she at one point joined the circus in high school and considered going to clown school after she graduated.

[00:06:02] Dawn asks how Katherine ended up in Rhode Island to attend Brown University instead of going to Florida to attend the Ringling Brothers Clown College.

[00:06:47] Katherine talks about her time at Brown University editing the school’s literary magazine.

[00:07:24] Ken Asks about Katherine’s time at Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar.

[00:08:37] Dawn asks how Katherine, a woman who holds a Master’s degree in 17th Century English Epic Civil War Poetry, became a journalist.

[00:10:23] Dawn asks about Katherine’s first big story, which also happened to be her first story.

[00:11:49] Dawn asks Catherine long she worked at the New York Times.

[00:13:07] Katherine explains how she came to write her first book, “Dangerous Doses: A True Story of Cops, Counterfeiters and the Contamination of America’s Drug Supply.”

[00:14:56] Dawn mentions that after the publishing of “Dangerous Doses,” Katherine spent a decade investigating the generic-drug industry, an investigation sparked by a phone call from a colleague who asked for her help.

[00:16:17] Ken asks about the difference between a generic and brand-name drug, and what is involved in the process of reverse-engineering a drug.

[00:17:43] Dawn asks about the series of interviews Katherine conducted with patients sharing their experiences with generic drugs, which led to a story she wrote for “Self” magazine in 2009.

[00:20:15] Ken mentions that in the “Self” magazine article, Katherine wrote about Dr. Kesselheim, an instructor at Harvard Medical school who reviewed data from 47 clinical studies. He found no evidence that patients on brand-name cardiovascular drugs had outcomes superior to those on generics. Given this study is now 10 years old, Ken asks if anyone has revisited this analysis.

[00:21:25] Katherine tells the story of her anonymous informant that contacted her about a month after the “Self” magazine article, who went by the pseudonym “4 Dollar Refill.”

[00:22:38] Dawn mentions that over the following five years, Katherine wrote a series of articles about generic-drug quality, which culminated in a 10,000-word article titled “Dirty Medicine” published in Fortune Magazine in 2013.

[00:24:03] Dawn mentions that a reason that generic drugs account for 90% of the drugs in the U.S. is that generics are so much cheaper than brand names. She goes on to ask about how in “Bottle of Lies” Katherine explains why the low cost of manufacturing in India and China has created issues for the American consumer.

[00:25:08] Dawn asks about the Carnegie Fellowship Katherine received in the midst of working on “Bottle of Lies.”

[00:26:42] Ken asks Katherine how many interviews she had to do for her book.

[00:27:11] Katherine talks about how the plan to help Africa during the AIDS epidemic laid the groundwork for some of the corruption she laid out in “Bottle of Lies.”

[00:29:14] Katherine tells the story of Harry Lever, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, who started noticing his patients suffering from low platelet count after taking heparin, which raised his concerns, and led him to discover that heparin had been contaminated in China.

[00:30:10] Ken asks what the average person can expect if they tell their pharmacist that they do not want the generic version of a drug that their doctor prescribed.

[00:31:26] Dawn asks if this problem is being substantially driven by insurance companies.

[00:31:56] Ken asks what it was that caused generic drugs to make up 90% of the drug supply today, when in 2009 they only made up 60%.

[00:33:16] Dawn asks about Peter Baker, a young FDA investigator, who ended up in New Delhi looking into Indian drug manufacturers.

[00:34:17] Ken asks about the obstacles Peter Baker faced.

[00:36:47] Katherine explains what the protocol is when an FDA investigator finds contamination.

[00:38:18] Dawn asks about Peter Baker’s investigation into the Wockhardt plant.

[00:41:22] Ken asks Katherine to tell the story of Ranbaxy, India’s largest drug company.

[00:44:27] Katherine how Dinesh Thakur became a whistleblower.

[00:45:51] Ken asks what happened to Ranbaxy.

[00:46:29] Katherine explains why Peter Baker eventually left the FDA despite the good work he was doing.

[00:48:18] Dawn mentions that in light of Baker’s and other FDA investigators’ discoveries of fraud and corruption in China and India, stronger regulations are needed in order to protect consumers. She asks if Katherine has a sense of what direction the FDA is headed in that regard.

[00:49:39] Ken asks if we should start producing more of our own drugs in the U.S.

[00:50:30] Katherine explains the resource on her website titled “A Guide to Investigating Your Own Drugs.”

[00:52:21] Dawn asks about Valisure, a mail-order pharmacy that tests every drug that they dispense to ensure quality.

[00:54:18] Dawn mentions that Katherine was recently in India to do some talks and book signings, but that she had concerns about the reception because the Modi Government had put out a statement saying that it was going to take action against her book.

[00:55:39] Ken asks if Katherine is working on any new projects at the moment.

[00:56:13] Ken asks if Katherine is still in touch with Harry Lever at the Cleveland Clinic, or “4 Dollar Refill.”

[00:56:47] Dawn closes the interview asking about Katherine’s 187-pound dog Romeo.

Links:

Katherine Eban website

Learn more about IHMC

STEM-Talk homepage

Ken Ford bio

Dawn Kernagis bio

Mar 10 2020

1hr

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Episode 103: Abe Morgentaler talks about men’s health, sex drive and the benefits of testosterone therapy

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Today’s interview is with Dr. Abraham Morgentaler, an internationally known pioneer in men’s sexuality and the founder of the first comprehensive center in the U.S. specializing in men’s health.

Abe’s research has upended longstanding concepts regarding testosterone therapy, prostrate cancer and male sexuality.  He is particularly credited with research that has contradicted the established view that testosterone injections led to elevated risks for prostate cancer.

In today’s interview, we talk to Abe about testosterone deficiency and its effects on men’s health and sex drive; the biological functions of testosterone; and Abe’s work treating metastatic prostrate cancer.

Abe is the director of Men’s Health Boston and an associate clinical professor of Urology at Harvard Medical School. He is the author of “Why Men Fake It: The Totally Unexpected Truth About Men and Sex,” which was retitled “The Truth About Men and Sex” for the paperback edition. He also is the author of “Testosterone for Life: Recharge Your Vitality, Sex Drive, Muscle Mass and Overall Health.”

Show notes

[00:02:58] Dawn opens the interview mentioning that Abe grew up in Canada, asking him what his interests were as a kid other than hockey.

[00:04:28] Dawn asks what Abe’s gap year between high school and college was like.

[00:07:48] Abe explains that when he was born, his mother had some specific wishes for him. He failed at one but came through on the other.

[00:08:17] While a sophomore in college trying to find his way, Abe ended up studying sex hormones in lizards.

[00:16:32] Dawn explains that for a long time the greatest fear related to the use of testosterone therapy was that it would lead to prostate cancer. This was based on a 1941 paper by Charles Huggins from the University of Chicago, who wrote that his research found cancers were sensitive to hormonal manipulation. Dawn asks Abe to discuss how he started questioning this long-held dogma that high testosterone levels caused prostate cancer.

[00:23:29] Dawn mentions that this story is a great example of why it is important in science to question things, particularly the status quo.

[00:31:50] Abe talks about his 2006 paper, “Testosterone and Prostate Cancer, a Historical Myth,” which showed that the data contradicted the old belief that more testosterone would lead to more prostate growth.

[00:40:10] Ken mentions that Abe followed up his previously mentioned paper with another one titled, “The Saturation Model and the Limits of Androgen-Dependent Growth.”

[00:45:19] Abe talks about the exciting work he is doing helping men deal with metastatic prostate cancer.

[00:51:32] Dawn explains how Abe uses the term “low T” to describe a condition that is otherwise known as hypogonadism or testosterone deficiency syndrome. Abe describes the many biological functions of testosterone.

[00:53:27] Abe responds to the criticism that because testosterone levels decline with age, the process must be natural and, therefore, should not be treated.

[00:55:42] Abe discusses a paper that came out in 2013 in the Journal of the American Medical Association that reported increased cardiovascular risk in men given testosterone replacement, and how the study’s statistical analysis was seriously flawed.

[01:07:03] Ken mentions that in 2017, a trial by Budoff et al., published in JAMA, suggested that testosterone replacement therapy in men with low T led to more rapid progression of atherosclerotic plaques compared to placebo.

[01:13:21] Ken asks why Abe thinks that testosterone replacement therapy can actually be protective in regards to cardiovascular disease.

[01:14:19] Ken asks about the seemingly rapid drop in testosterone levels in men in the western world as reported by several papers including the Massachusetts Male Aging Study, as well as a large Finnish Study, and a 2017 meta-analysis.

[01:17:37] Dawn mentions that while most people are aware of the term menopause, most are less familiar with the term andropause, coined as the male equivalent.

[01:20:41] Abe explains why blood tests for low T can be deceiving, and alternative tests that produce more practical results.

[01:25:55] Dawn asks about Men’s Health Boston, which Abe founded in 1999, which was the first comprehensive men’s health center in the United States.

[01:29:18] Ken asks about the different modes and types of testosterone administration.

[01:33:21] Ken asks about the fears of the aromatization of testosterone to estrogen with replacement therapy.

[01:36:14] Ken asks if there are any studies looking into “super physiological” levels of testosterone, such as levels up to 2000.

[01:39:22] Ken mentions that in Abe’s book “The Truth About Men and Sex,” Abe explains that his attempt was to pull back the curtain to reveal men as they truly are, the last chapter being titled, “Men Are People, Too.”

[01:43:19] Dawn asks Abe what he likes to do in his spare time.

[01:45:36] Dawn mentions that Abe was 18 when he entered Harvard as a freshman, and asks him if he had any idea that he would still be at Harvard more than four decades later.

Feb 19 2020

1hr 48mins

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Episode 102: Adam Konopka talks about metformin’s effects on healthspan and lifespan

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Our guest today is Dr. Adam Konopka, an assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, who believes that aging is the greatest risk factor for just about every single chronic disease that exists.

Adam’s lab, called the Musculoskeletal Aging and Metabolism Lab, is focused on aging-related research.

In addition to doing research that looks at different ways to delay the onset of age-related diseases and functional decline, Adam also has done a lot of research related to the interaction of exercise with metformin. Adam and his colleagues had a paper in Aging Cell that suggested metformin may blunt the health benefits of exercise in healthy older adults, a study that attracted a lot of attention and was highlighted in a story in The New York Times back in June.

Show notes:

[00:03:59] Dawn opens the interview mentioning that Adam’s lab is at the University of Illinois, and asks if he decided on Illinois because he grew up in a suburb outside of Chicago.

[00:04:28] Dawn asks Adam how he ended up getting into competitive swimming.

[00:05:13] Adam explains how his involvement in swimming increased his curiosity about physiology and ways to improve performance, a line of thought that contributed to his eventual majoring in exercise science.

[00:05:49] Dawn asks Adam why he decided to minor in entrepreneurship.

[00:06:18] Dawn asks Adam about the time when a professor doing research in pediatrics gave Adam the opportunity to volunteer for a study.

[00:07:01] Ken mentions that while Adam was a student, he had the opportunity to work on a study which looked at an exercise program used by crew members aboard the International Space Station. Adam explains what his role in this study was.

[00:08:05] Adam talks about his time spent at the Mayo Clinic as a postdoctoral research fellow, where he focused his time on looking at skeletal muscle mitochondrial function.

[00:09:00] Dawn explains Adam’s notion that mitochondria contribute to obesity induced insulin resistance, a highly debated topic. Dawn goes on to mention Adam’s 2015 paper that looked at obese women who had defects in mitochondrial efficiency and hydrogen peroxide emissions. Adam explains how exercise effectively restored the mitochondrial physiology of these women to that of a leaner phenotype.

[00:10:36] Adam discusses a metformin study he was a part of while at the Mayo Clinic, where he tested a hypothesis that had been previously shown in cell culture, to learn if those findings were translatable to humans.

[00:11:51] Adam talks about the significance of his findings that metformin improved fasting and postprandial glycemia without inhibiting glucagon-stimulated glucose production.

[00:12:59] Ken asks about the two and a half years Adam spent at Colorado State and the research that he conducted there.

[00:13:32] Adam explains the mission of, and the research being done at, his lab, The Musculoskeletal Aging and Metabolism Lab, at the University of Illinois.

[00:16:25] Ken asks Adam if he has looked into rapamycin and muscle, with respect to mTOR inhibition.

[00:17:01] Dawn mentions that Adam took these earlier studies, as well as the research he did as a postdoc, and started asking questions related to the interaction of exercise with metformin.

[00:17:30] Ken mentions how this research led to Adam’s paper earlier this year, which was highlighted in the New York Times, and which cast doubt on the idea that exercise and metformin, both of which have been looked at in the context of healthspan extension, work well together in conjunction.

[00:19:24] Dawn asks if the negative effects of metformin documented in various studies are relatively modest and or negligible.

[00:20:30] Ken asks Adam to speculate on some of his findings, particularly why a certain portion of individuals dosed with metformin are likely to be negative-responders, but at the same time others are positive-responders. Adam talks on this wide variability in the response to metformin.

[00:23:12] Dawn asks about Adam’s follow-up research into exercise and metformin that he received a grant for.

[00:25:20] Ken mentions it has been suggested that people space out the taking of metformin from the time a person exercises, given that the half-life of metformin is six hours.

[00:27:03] Dawn asks if the widely reported health benefits of metformin are worth it possibly inhibiting beneficial mitochondrial adaptations to exercise in older adults.

[00:28:38] Dawn asks for Adam to speculate on the mechanisms behind how metformin blunts the adaptive response to exercise.

[00:30:48] Ken talks in regards to the NIH-funded trial into metformin called, “Targeting Aging with Metformin” or TAME. Ken asks about Adam’s paper in GeroScience titled, “Taming Expectations of Metformin as a Treatment to Extend Healthspan.”

[00:32:57] Ken mentions that he would have liked to have seen rapamycin used instead of metformin in the TAME trial.

[00:33:42] Dawn asks if Adam believes that a metformin trial in healthy individuals is currently warranted.

[00:34:38] Dawn mentions that while metformin undoubtedly helps individuals suffering from metabolic disease, it is unclear if it has any significant positive effects on already healthy individuals. She goes on to mention that this is paradoxical in light of the fact that the majority of popular interest in off-label use of metformin is in healthy individuals or the so called “worried well,” people who already follow habits of good health.

[00:36:16] Ken asks Adam how, in a perfect world, he would design a trial for healthspan-extending intervention in regards to what intervention would he pick, and how he would gauge efficacy considering that an intervention in healthy individuals would ideally need to be continued for several decades in order to determine a true effect. Ken goes on to ask what the pros and cons are of proxies for age in such a study including telomere length as well as biological and epigenetic clocks.

[00:39:26] Ken asks how Adam would adjust for lifestyle behaviors like dietary manipulation and exercise that activate similar pathways to drugs like metformin and rapamycin in his hypothetical study.

[00:40:44] Dawn asks if Adam has much expectation in extending lifespan with pharmacological methods, or if he thinks that merely healthspan will increase while we see a so-called compression of morbidity, and if he thinks that these pharmacological treatments are likely to surpass lifestyle interventions like exercise.

[00:42:39] Ken asks if Adam has looked at PPAR-D agonists, which are a class of drugs that provide some of the effects of exercise pharmacologically.

[00:43:50] Adam gives his advice to people interested in extending their healthspan.

[00:44:57] Dawn asks what Adam’s diet and exercise routine look like.

[00:46:11] Dawn mentions that she knows that Adam and his wife have a young child and closes the interview asking Adam what he does for fun in his spare time.

Links:

Adam Konopka bio

Musculoskeletal Aging and Metabolism Lab Facebook page

Learn more about IHMC

STEM-Talk homepage

Ken Ford bio

Dawn Kernagis bio

Jan 28 2020

48mins

Play

Episode 101: Rachel Yehuda talks about epigenetic inheritance, PTSD and the potential of MDMA therapies

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Today we talk with Dr. Rachel Yehuda whose pioneering research on cortisol and brain function has revolutionized worldwide our understanding and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Rachel is also well-known for her studies on the intergenerational transmission of trauma and PTSD. This novel research has shown that the children of traumatized parents are at risk of similar problems due to epigenetic changes that are transmitted from the parents to their offspring. She has worked with war veterans, Holocaust survivors and other victims of trauma to detail the biological roots of PTSD.

She is a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience and the director of the Traumatic Stress Studies Division at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. She also is the director of the Mental Health Patient Care Center at the James J. Peters VA Medical Center.

Show notes:

[00:02:31] Dawn begins the interview asking Rachel about her time as a child growing up in Cleveland.

[00:03:17] After Ken mentions that Rachel’s father was a rabbi, Rachel explains how growing up in an observant Jewish household shaped her.

[00:04:46] Rachel talks about a biology teacher who inspired her to go beyond her interests in philosophy and pursue science.

[00:05:50] Dawn asks Rachel why it seems that so many scientists start out with an interest in philosophy.

[00:07:16] Dawn asks Rachel why she decided to major in psychology at Touro University in New York.

[00:08:16] Ken asks Rachel why she decided to attend the University of Massachusetts at Amherst after graduating from Touro University.

[00:09:03] Rachel explains how she went into graduate school looking for a way to become both a psychologist and a scientist.

[00:10:08] Dawn asks Rachel about something Rachel’s daughter observed about her: “You move to the beat of your own drum. You never do anything other than what the voice in your head tells you to do.”

[00:11:12] Ken asks if it is true that Rachel’s first graduate advisor was not optimistic about Rachel making it through grad school.

[00:12:33] Rachel tells the story of how she first met Bill Edell and walked up to him and said that she wanted to do clinical research.

[00:14:38] Ken asks Rachel why she decided to do research on stress, particularly when stress wasn’t a major focus of research in the 1980s.

[00:16:05] Dawn mentions that after graduating from UMass Amherst, Rachel did her postdoctoral work in biological psychiatry at Yale Medical School. Rachel met Dr. Earl Giller there, who became Rachel’s mentor and an early researcher in post-traumatic stress disorder. Rachel talks about how Dr. Giller had just completed a study on Vietnam veterans showing low cortisol levels.

[00:18:40] Rachel talks about how for her post-doc at Yale she wanted to look into the biology of personality, but was told that it was a “dumb idea” for post-doc research.

[00:22:06] Dawn asks about the paradox uncovered by Dr. Giller’s research into Vietnam veterans showing low cortisol levels when stress is supposed to be associated with elevated cortisol levels. Dawn goes on to ask how this finding led Rachel to interview Holocaust survivors in her hometown of Cleveland.

[00:24:43] Rachel tells the story of when she talked to a group of Holocaust survivors, a woman came up to her and said: You know, Dr. Yehuda, we don’t have VA centers like your veterans do.

[00:26:20] Ken asks about the program Rachel set up to help Holocaust survivors.

[00:27:20] Dawn points out that in 2016 Rachel published the results of a study looking at the genes of 32 Jewish women and men. She and her colleagues at Mount Sinai studied Holocaust survivors who either had been interned in Nazi concentration camps during World War II or had witnessed or experienced torture. Rachel also looked at the genes of 22 children who were born to the Holocaust survivors after the war. Rachel discusses how the changes in the DNA of Holocaust survivors were in a way passed down to their offspring.

[00:29:13] Rachel discusses the necessary caution we should take regarding our understanding of mechanisms and how effects get from one place to another, or from the experience of one generation into the biology of the next, because we simply don’t have sufficient human studies that can truly pinpoint what truly causes the effects we see.

[00:32:06] Ken asks about Rachel’s realization that past effects could transform not only the narrative of a person’s life but also their physiology.

[00:33:59] Dawn describes Rachel’s 2005 study with woman who were pregnant in the World Trade Center during 9/11, which showed, along with other studies, that children of traumatized parents are at risk of having similar problems as their parents due to changes occurring in the biology of the parents as a result of trauma exposure. Dawns asks about the process of epigenetic changes being transmitted to offspring, which has become known as “intergenerational transmission.”

[00:36:27] Ken asks if cortisol is uniformly low, or if there is substantial variation from person to person, since one often hears of elevated cortisol levels in first responders and military populations.

[00:38:43] Ken asks Rachel how she ended up at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

[00:39:40] Ken asks about Rachel’s role as the founder and director of the Division of Traumatic Stress Studies at Mount Sinai.

[00:41:20] Dawn asks Rachel to describe what happens inside a person’s body when they find themselves in a stressful situation.

[00:42:47] Dawn mentions that in psychiatry and mental health, symptoms of trauma are treated as psychological, but that Rachel is finding that these problems of trauma also correlate to people having physical problems.

[00:44:02] Rachel talks about her role as the Director of the Mental Health Patient Care Center at James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center in the Bronx, which she has inhabited since 2009.

[00:44:58] Rachel is asked to talk about how there are only a few approved pharmacological treatments for PTSD, and no approved medications to enhance resilience.

[00:46:38] Ken asks about a study Rachel published in 2013 which indicated that effective psychotherapy can be thought of as a form of “environmental regulation” which is able alter a person’s epigenetic state.

[00:49:36] Ken asks how Rachel thinks the discovery of the epigenetic inheritance of trauma could change the way we approach and treat chronic health conditions, and if it is possible that much of what we are experiencing in terms of physical and mental illness as a society at large could be manifestations of trauma that has been caused by changes to epigenetic memory.

[00:51:09] Rachel describes her excitement about MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD, an interest she is collaborating on with Dr. Dave Rabin, who was interviewed on STEM-Talk episode 99.

[00:52:14] Dawn refers the MDMA study that Rachel and others are collaborating on with Dave, and how this study has started its phase III trial with the FDA. Rachel gives an overview of what is going on with this study and how MDMA could be licensed and become a medicine.

[00:56:09] Ken asks Rachel about her quote where she said in an interview, “My career has been enhanced by the fact that early on nobody believed in PTSD. Well, now, I almost think we’ve been a victim of our own success in many ways because I think we’ve ended up really pathologizing it to a large extent.”

[00:58:37] Ken comments on how he relates to Rachel, in that his early career saw him also studying something believed to be impossible, AI, and that things have now been reversed and the power of AI is often overestimated.

[00:59:45] Rachel explains that she is thankful to have become a scientist, even though she enjoyed philosophy in her youth, but that if she could no longer be a scientist for some reason, she would want to become a musician.

[01:00:15] “Dawn mentions that Rachel has some experience appearing on stage as a singer, such as when she performed at the Meeting of the International Society of Psychoneuroendocrinology with colleagues Thomas Neylan  and David Spiegel (interviewed on STEM-Talk episode 45).  The song Rachel sang was titled “The Grant Song,”  Dawn closes the interview asking Rachel if she wrote the humorous lyrics.

Rachel Yehuda bio

Learn more about IHMC

STEM-Talk homepage

Ken Ford bio

Dawn Kernagis bio

Jan 07 2020

1hr 4mins

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Episode 100: Peter Attia gives an update on his views regarding longevity and health span

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Today’s episode marks the 100th episode of STEM-Talk and the return of guest Peter Attia, who Ken and Dawn interviewed for episode one of STEM-Talk back in 2016.

Peter is the founder of Attia Medical, a medical practice with offices in San Diego and New York City that focuses on the applied science of longevity. Peter emphasizes nutritional biochemistry, exercise physiology, sleep physiology, lipidology, pharmacology and four-system endocrinology to help people increase their lifespan and health span.

Peter is the host of the podcast The Drive. He earned his M.D. from Stanford University and holds a B.S. in mechanical engineering and applied mathematics.

Show notes:

[00:04:44] Dawn opens the interview welcoming Peter back to the show. Dawn mentions that a lot has happened since she and Ken last interviewed Peter and points out that Peter is in the process of writing a book.

[00:05:51] Ken asks Peter if it’s true that he does his best writing on long flights.

[00:06:21] Dawn mentions that in 2014 Peter created Attia Medical, which is a practice with offices in San Diego and New York City, where he focuses on the applied science of longevity and optimal performance. Peter gives an overview of his practice and how he works to improve people’s healthspan and lifespan.

[00:07:29] Ken asks Peter to explain the difference between a strategy and a tactic in the domain of optimization of performance and healthspan.

[00:10:35] Dawn mentions that back on episode one of STEM-Talk that Peter talked about his eight drivers of longevity. Dawn asks Peter if his thinking over the past three years has changed in terms of the eight drivers.

[00:12:30] Dawn asks what are some of the best lab tests in terms of longevity that people should request from their primary care physician.

[00:14:25] Ken asks how Peter goes about determining optimal reference ranges to target in his patients, noting that the guidelines constituting normal are based on a sick overall population.

[00:17:26] Dawn talks about how every year a new secret to longevity comes out with the force of hype behind it, but that rarely does the new so-called secret deliver. In contrast, she mentions how Peter encourages people to keep things simple and focus on nutrition, exercise and sleep. Peter explains how these three things can have the biggest impact on a person’s physical health.

[00:19:35] Dawn explains that optimizing health span can be expensive, often costing upwards of $100,000 a year in tests and devices and off-label medications. She asks if Peter has any thoughts on if there is becoming a class divide in the world of healthspan and lifespan.

[00:21:10] Ken explains that a primary inhibitor of BDNF is HDAC, and BHB is a powerful inhibitor of HDAC, which leads one to think that one of the mechanisms of exercise to increase BDNF is the elevation of BHB.

[00:22:21] Ken mentions that the area under the curve for insulin is one of Peter’s favorite longevity markers, and asks him to talk about the concept of insulin area under the curve.  In addition to blood tests and glucose monitoring, Ken asks Peter what would be the next item of greatest interest in terms of longevity markers.

[00:24:28] Dawn mentions that Peter wears an Oura Ring to monitor his sleep, and a glucose monitor to measure his blood sugar in real time. Dawn asks Peter to talk about the benefits of continuous monitoring versus short-term use for the purpose of building future behavior.

[00:25:54] Dawn asks if Peter uses any other wearables besides the ones she just mentioned.

[00:27:45] Dawn points out that Peter traveled to Easter Island with some friends, including David Sabatini, a guest on episode 70 of STEM-Talk. Dawn asks Peter to talk about the trip which was set up to explore first-hand the place where a group of Canadian researchers first discovered rapamycin.

[00:29:13] Ken mentions that Peter is on record saying, “For me personally nothing is more interesting than rapamycin.” Peter explains what he has been learning about rapamycin and why it is so fascinating.

[00:31:49] Ken says that in one of Peter’s podcasts, Peter mentioned he had been taking 5 mg of rapamycin. Ken asks what it was that informed that choice. Ken also asks Peter how he has been tracking rapamycin’s effects, and if he has any thoughts for listeners considering rapamycin.

[00:33:38] Dawn asks if we are any closer to being able to accurately measure biological signals, such as mTOR activity and autophagy, than we were three years ago.

[00:36:28] Peter explains his thoughts on muscle loss and fasting, and the amino acids that are important in muscles affected during a fast.

[00:38:44] Ken mentions that there are a lot of misconceptions about protein consumption, particularly in the context of ketogenic diets. He mentions Valter Longo’s opinion that a diet high in protein is as bad as smoking. Peter explains his thoughts on the role of protein in health and performance.

[00:41:05] Ken makes the point that the strongest viewpoints in science that have the most passion and anger behind them are often the ones with the largest error bars.

[00:41:35] Dawn mentions the importance of IGF-1 and its related molecules on metabolism. She asks about the paradox when it comes to IGF-1 in terms of performance and longevity.

[00:43:39] Ken mentions that the Annals of Internal Medicine published a study that made the point that eating red meat poses minimal health risks. Peter gives his thoughts on this.

[00:48:39] Ken states that in addition to rapamycin and fasting, he and Peter share an interest in sauna, a practice with growing evidence for its benefits. Ken asks Peter’s opinion on the difference between infrared and traditional sauna.

[00:50:03] Dawn mentions that in 2016 the Dong et al paper in Nature suggested that the limit of human longevity has been reached, and that Barbi et all published a paper in Science in 2018 that said that the mortality curve for humans flattens out once the age of 105 is reached. Peter shares his thoughts on just how long humans can live.

[00:53:29] Ken mentions that a recent study from the Miller Lab suggested that metformin might inhibit mitochondrial adaptation in older adults, and that an even more recent paper out of the University of Kentucky and the University of Alabama reported that metformin significantly blunts muscle hypertrophy in response to resistance training. Peter gives his thoughts on this and why he stopped taking metformin.

[00:55:36] Peter shares his concerns about generic metformin, as well as his recent interview with Katherine Eban about the fraud in the generic drug industry.

[00:57:15] Ken mentions that Peter is a proponent of fasting, and is involved with the Zero app. Ken asks if the benefits of fasting can be thought of in relationship to ApoB levels.

[00:59:18] Ken asks Peter to describe what he sees as the most interesting question he doesn’t yet have an answer to, but believes is eventually possible to know.

[01:00:28] Dawn ends the interview by asking Peter if there is one thing that he did not believe three years ago that he now thinks is likely to be true.

Links:

Peter Attia bio

Learn more about IHMC

STEM-Talk homepage

Ken Ford bio

Dawn Kernagis bio

Dec 17 2019

1hr 3mins

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Episode 99 : Dave Rabin talks about how psychedelics and wearable devices can help improve people’s lives

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Dr. David Rabin is the chief innovation officer and co-founder of Apollo Neuroscience. He also is the co-inventor of Apollo, a wearable device designed to improve focus, sleep and access to meditative states by gently delivering layered vibrations to the skin.

Dave is a board-certified psychiatrist and translational neuroscientist who for the past decade has been studying resilience and the impact of chronic stress on humans. He received his MD in medicine and Ph.D. in neuroscience from Albany Medical College in Albany, New York. He trained in psychiatry at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Dave also has organized the world’s largest controlled study of psychedelic medicines and is well-known for his research into MDMA and its potential to treat posttraumatic stress disorder along with other disorders.

Show notes

[00:03:06] Dawn opens the interview mentioning that David grew up in California and asking him about an insatiable need he had as a child to understand why people were the way that they were.

[00:04:18] David talks about how the vivid and frequent dreams he had as a child played a role in his decision to study consciousness and neuroscience.

[00:07:33] Dawn mentions that in high school Dave told his father that he wanted to study consciousness; however, Dave’s father suggested that he study something more tangible and quantifiable instead. Dave explains how this led him to spend the summer between his junior and senior year of high school at Rockefeller University.

[00:12:08] Ken asks why Dave decided to move across the country to Albany Medical College, where he received his MD in medicine and Ph.D. in Neuroscience.

[00:14:01] Dave gives an overview of the research he did, while working on his Ph.D., in emotional salience and how people interpret different stimuli as either threatening or safe. An area of research informed by his reading of evolutionary psychology, and the study of touch as an evolutionarily conserved stimulator of the safety pathway.

[00:17:58] Ken asks about how Dave decided to go into psychiatry at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic at the University of Pittsburg Medical Center, where he focused on treatment-resistant mental illnesses.

[00:20:47] Dawn mentions Dave’s work with Greg Siegel. Dawn asks about this work and how it led Dave to become serious about studying consciousness, altered states of consciousness, and the potential use of these altered states to facilitate healing.

[00:24:26] Ken talks about MDMA, or 3,4-Methyl​enedioxy​methamphetamine, a psychoactive drug commonly known as ecstasy or molly.  He explains that MDMA has been shown to facilitate the release of oxytocin, which increases levels of empathy and closeness while dampening fear-related amygdala activity. This results in an overall decrease in stress response and social anxiety. Ken asks Dave to talk about MDMA’s potential to treat PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) along with other disorders.

[00:27:37] Ken asks if Dave has seen any improvements in heart rate variability (HRV) post MDMA treatments.

[00:28:37] Dawn mentions that Dave is part of the world’s largest controlled study of psychedelic medicines. She goes on to explain that these medicines, like LSD and MDMA and even psilocybin, which comes from mushrooms, were used to treat mental and emotional trauma from the 1950s to the ‘70s.  Due to the abuses that occurred during this time, the use as well as research on psychedelic medicines in U.S. were shut down. With a shift towards a renewed interest in these medicines, Dawn asks about this study and if Dave could give a background on psychedelic medicine.

[00:32:34] Dave talks about the epigenetic trial, being conducted in phase three of the MDMA study, where DNA samples are collected before and after use, to determine the epigenetic regulation of stress-response genes.

[00:41:30] Ken asks about psilocybin, which is a naturally occurring psychedelic produced by more than 200 species of mushrooms. Ken asks Dave to explain how psilocybin is different from MDMA, both chemically and experientially.

[00:45:45] Dave discusses the use of ecstasy and the debate around the safety of MDMA, and how compared to stimulants such as cocaine, amphetamine and methamphetamine, addiction to MDMA is very rare.

[00:48:47] Dawn explains that psychedelics are, to this day, illegal in the U.S., and further states that STEM-Talk is not advocating the use of these or any illegal substances, before asking Dave about the changing legal status of psychedelics.

[00:49:51] Dawn asks about the use of cannabidiol (CBD) for management of symptoms for illnesses such as PTSD and pain-management.

[00:54:17] Ken mentions that Dave has spent the last several years developing a technology called Apollo, which is intended to help people make changes more effectively. Given the research and study Dave has done into stress, meditation and athletic performance, and why some people are more resilient than others, Ken asks Dave what he has learned from all this and how it led to the Apollo technology.

[00:57:31] Ken asks if the hypervigilance people have to text alerts and emails and phone vibrations and news alerts and the constant bombardment of noise and stimuli is conditioning our bodies to be in a hyper-stressed state all the time.

[00:59:26] Ken asks how to retrain the nervous system to become more balanced between our sympathetic and parasympathetic symptoms without the use of psychedelics.

[01:02:37] Dawn asks about cognitive patterns and the way people think about their lives, such as the tendency to take challenges personally and think “why me?” while others tend to see challenges as an opportunity for growth.

[01:05:35] Dave talks about heart-rate variability (HRV) and why he considers it one of the more important findings about resilience that has been made in the past 15 years.

[01:09:19] Dawn asks what a good range for HRV is, or if there is a significant degree of variation across healthy people.

[01:10:31] Dave explains the Apollo wearable device in depth, and how and why it works.

[01:11:57] Ken asks if there have been pilot studies with children for the Apollo device.

[01:14:14] Dawn mentions that Dave’s wife Kathryn was the one who came up with the idea to create the company Apollo Neuroscience. Dave tells the story behind that.

[01:15:37] Ken mentions that David and Kathryn are in in the process of launching Apollo, and that the devices will start shipping in January.

[01:15:50] Dawn asks, given Dave’s study of stress and the pervasiveness of technology in our modern world and its role in our levels of stress, how he deals with stress on a day-to-day basis.

[01:18:12] Dawn mentions that Dave went to work for his wife this last year and asks, aside from their working relationship, what the two of them do for fun.

Links:

Dave Rabin bio

Learn more about IHMC

STEM-Talk homepage

Ken Ford bio

Dawn Kernagis bio

Nov 26 2019

1hr 21mins

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Episode 98: Steven Austad talks about aging and preserving human health

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Our guest today is Dr. Steven Austad who studies virtually every aspect of aging. He is a distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Biology at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.

In addition to being recognized for his aging and longevity research, Steve is also well-known for his background as a New York City cab driver, newspaper reporter and a lion trainer who then decided to become a biologist.

His research today involves developing lifestyle and pharmacological approaches to improving and preserving human health. He is particularly focused on figuring out why different species age at different rates.

Steve is the author of more than 190 scientific articles. His book, “Why We Age: What Science Is Discovering about the Body’s Journey Through Life,” has been translated into nine languages. He also writes newspaper columns and has written for publications like Natural History magazine, Scientific American and International Wildlife.

Show notes:

[00:02:53] Dawn opens the interview mentioning that Steve was born in Southern California, but that his family moved around so much, that he ended up attending around 20 grade schools. Steve explains that his father bought a travel trailer and moved the family around the country.

[00:03:57] Steve talks about how even though he was shy and introverted as a kid, he found a way to fit in with his classmates.

[00:04:40] Ken mentions how Steve’s career went through several reinventions before settling into a career in science. Among the various occupations Steve had were: a newspaper reporter, training lions and tigers for television and movies, and taxi driving. Ken asks Steve how he became a taxi driver.

[00:06:01] Steve talks about his time on the West Coast in Portland working as a newspaper reporter for the Oregonian.

[00:07:48] Dawn asks how it was that Tippi Hedren and Melanie Griffith had something to do with Steve becoming a lion trainer.

[00:14:39] Ken asks Steve about the suicidal duck whose reckless abandonment nearly resulted in Steve’s death at the hands of one of the lions he was training.

[00:19:21] Steve discusses why his fascination with animal behavior lead him to California State University to major in biology.

[00:23:24] Dawn asks what took Steve to the University of New Mexico for his postdoc.

[00:28:16] Ken asks how Steve landed his job as assistant professor in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University in 1986.

[00:29:59] Dawn mentions that Steve discovered that opossums of the predator-free barrier island of Sapelo Island lived 25 percent longer than their cousins on the mainland of Georgia. Steve discusses this and explains how this discovery played a role in his future research.

[00:34:13] Dawn points out that Steve left Harvard for the University of Idaho where he became a full professor and then next went the University of Texas. Dawn asks Steve about accepting  a position in 2014 at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.

[00:41:32] Steve discusses his research into lifespan and healthspan and longevity and why some species age at different rates, with a particular interest in long-lived organisms like quahogs clams and hydra. He goes on to explain how this research led to what he refers to as the “Longevity Quotient.”

[00:48:42] Ken mentions that as a former Rhode Islander, he spent some time digging Quahogs and eating them.

[00:53:14] Steve gives an overview of how dietary restriction studies are performed on mice.

[00:59:39] Ken mentions that from Steve’s description it seems that modern humans are becoming more and more like laboratory mice.

[01:02:53] Ken mentions STEM-Talk episode 79 where Satchin Panda talks about time-restricted eating, and episode 7 where Mark Matson talks about intermittent fasting. Ken goes on to say that Mark made the point that the benefits of time-restricted eating or intermittent fasting is that it puts the organism, particularly the human, in a state of ketosis.

[01:04:09] Steve talks about the differences in the maximum lifespans of males and females in both humans and other animals.

[01:08:42] Ken recommends STEM-Talk episode 67 with Doug Wallace for listeners interested in hearing more about mitochondria.

[01:09:44] Dawn asks about metformin, which is a drug that many people believe has the potential to increase our healthspan and lifespan. She asks why it is that we’re not all taking metformin and if it really has such potential. She further asks about the status of the Targeting Aging With Metformin (TAME) trial.

[01:13:39] Ken mentions a recent study coming from the Miller lab, that suggested metformin might inhibit mitochondrial adaptations to exercise in older adults. He goes on to mention an even more recent paper out of the University of Kentucky and the University of Alabama, Birmingham has reported that metformin blunts muscle hypertrophy in response to resistance exercise training in older adults. Ken also mentions Steve’s continued interest in rapamycin and its effect on the health span of animals. Ken asks what Steve has learned and if rapamycin would still be his first choice for testing for a drug to target aging.

[01:20:08] Ken asks about the optimal and most efficacious dose of rapamycin for humans.

[01:21:10] Dawn mentions a paper Steve co-authored with Tuck Finch, discussing the role of the different APOE isoforms. Dawn asks about the ancestral isoform and why we see different isoform distributions today compared to hundreds of thousands of years ago.

[01:24:59] Dawna asks why we see different isoform distributions between different populations around the globe.

[01:26:29] Dawn asks how much of a role lifestyle versus genetics plays in healthspan and lifespan.

[01:28:58] Steve talks about of Fauja Singh, who is 108 and didn’t start distance running until he was in his 80s, and who ran a marathon when he was 101.

[01:32:17] Ken asks if Steve is still as confident as he was in 2016 when he made a bet with Olshansky over whether there will be one or more 150-year-old human by the year 2150.

[01:34:15] Ken asks why we haven’t seen someone exceed Jeanne Calment’s record age of 122 years that she reached in 1997.

[01:36:04] Dawn mentions that Steve continues to write articles and columns for newspapers as well as other news outlets. In addition to this Steve also has a website called, “Let’s Talk Science?” where an assortment of his newspaper columns and other writings can be found.

[01:37:47] Dawn closes the interview suggesting that Steve might want to explore writing a novel about a young newspaper reporter who ends up driving a Mercedes across California with a lion in the backseat, who then finds himself in a Hollywood mansion living with Tippi Hedrin and Melanie Griffin and watching over the lions and cheetahs that run through the house. Dawn suggests that has the makings of a good book.

Links:

Austad’s University of Alabama, Birmingham bio

Let’s Talk Science

Learn more about IHMC

STEM-Talk homepage

Ken Ford bio

Dawn Kernagis bio

Nov 05 2019

1hr 40mins

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Episode 97: Francesca Rossi talks about AI ethics and the development of new AI systems

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Our guest today is Francesca Rossi,  who for the past three years has been an AI Ethics Global Leader at IBM Research as well as an IBM Distinguished Research Staff Member. Prior to her time at IBM, she was a professor of computer science at the University of Padova, Italy.

Francesca’s AI research interests include constraint reasoning, preferences, multi-agent systems, computational social choice, and collective decision making. Much of her research today is focused on the future of artificial intelligence and the ethical issues surrounding the development and behavior of AI systems.

She is a fellow of both the worldwide association of AI (AAAI) and of the European Association of AI. She also has been president of the International Joint Conference on AI and the editor in chief of the Journal of AI Research.

Sitting in for Dawn during today’s interview is IHMC colleague Brent Venable, who recently was named the inaugural director of a new Ph.D. program in Intelligent Systems and Robotics that is a partnership between IHMC and the University of West Florida.

Brent is a graduate of the University of Padova and had Francesca as her academic advisor.

Show notes:

[00:03:25] Brent opens the interview asking Francesca where she grew up in Italy.

[00:03:51] Brent mentions that Francesca was a curious child, who was fascinated with the moon landing. Brent asks what else Francesca was interested in as a child.

[00:05:01] Francesca explains that if she were to stumble across a time machine she would be interested in going forward in time rather than backwards.

[00:05:41] Ken asks why Francesca decided to study computer science in 1981when the field was relatively new.

[00:07:22] Francesca discusses the one class in her academic career that stumped her, despite her good grades in every other subject.

[00:08:36] Ken mentions that Francesca ended up in Austin, Texas after obtaining her degree in computer science, and asks what it was that lead her to the University of Texas and what research she did there.

[00:11:40] Brent asks why Francesca decided to go back to Pisa after Texas to work on her Ph.D.

[00:13:23] Brent mentions that after Francesca’s Ph.D., she moved to the University of Padova, where she worked for the next 20 years. Brent asks about the work that Francesca did in this period, particularly her seminal work on preferences for intelligent systems.

[00:15:17] Ken discusses how Francesca became Brent’s academic advisor at Padova. Ken mentions that he has heard that the two of them had so much fun working together, that they did as much laughing as research during their time at Padova. He asks the two of them if that could possibly be true.

[00:17:41] Francesca talks about the sabbatical she took to the Radcliff Institute.

[00:22:00] Brent asks about an article in the Wall Street Journal that featured Francesca as well as a senior manager at IBM and one of the founders of Skype and how the article played a role in Francesca’s decision to move to the United States.

[00:23:41] Francesca’s title at IBM is “Global Ethics Leader.” Brent asks Francesca to describe what the job entails.

[00:30:00] Ken asks what Francesca envisions as the likely future of AI, and what she hopes for the future of AI.

[00:31:54] Francesca discusses how we sometimes craft our visions for the future around our current technology, and that she believes that the proper approach should be to build our technologies around our visions for the future.

[00:34:37] Brent asks Francesca for her thoughts on whether or not the fear of robots and AI going rogue and hurting people is a legitimate one, and what she thinks about the government adopting AI legislation.

[00:38:23] Francesca gives her thoughts on the fears that AI will one day replace human workers.

[00:41:43] Brent mentions that Matt Johnson, interviewed on episode 86 of STEM-Talk, had an article in AI magazine where he discussed human machine teaming, and said that humans and AI should work together the way two musicians do when playing a duet.

[00:44:11] Ken asks about the current predominance of machine learning as opposed to traditional AI, otherwise known as symbolic AI, and if the area of preferences that Francesca has pioneered could be a potential candidate for bringing these two areas of AI together.

[00:47:55] Brent asks if we ever decided to one day replace a judge with a deep learning algorithm, would AI be prone to discrimination based on the dataset that the deep-learning algorithm has been given to learn from.

[00:52:35] Ken asks if there are ways to hold the people and the companies that design intelligent systems accountable for the decisions that they make?

[00:55:29] Ken mentions that tech companies often shift blame to algorithms for mistakes that were a fault of humans whether intentional or unintentional. He asks about the growing concern of biases both consciously and unconsciously being imbedded into algorithms by the humans who make them.

[01:00:34] In ascribing values to intelligent machines to abide by, Ken asks whose values should be used, as different cultures have different values as well as different ethical codes of conduct.

[01:04:42] Brent asks about Francesca’s involvement with The Future of Life Institute, which leads Francesca to discuss Max Tegmark’s book “Life 3.0.”

[01:08:11] Brent asks about another initiative Francesca is involved in called Partnership for AI.

[01:10:52] Ken mentions that Francesca is the conference chair  for the 34th Annual AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, which will take place in New York City in February. Ken asks what the submissions currently look like and also to talk about the health of the field.

[01:13:49] Brent asks what Francesca does with her spare time.

[01:15:11] Ken asks Francesca why he was told to reassure her that the STEM-Talk staff would use a photograph of her and not a photograph of “The Terminator” on the STEM-Talk home page next to her episode.

Links:

Francesca Rossi IBM bio

Learn more about IHMC

STEM-Talk homepage

Ken Ford bio

Dawn Kernagis bio

Oct 15 2019

1hr 19mins

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Episode 96: Dick Despommier discusses vertical farming and fly fishing

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Today we have part two of our interview with Dr. Dickson Despommier, a microbiologist and ecologist who is the emeritus professor of public and environmental health at Columbia University.

Today’s episode focuses on vertical farming, a concept that Dick and his students came up with in 1999. When Dick’s book “Vertical Farms: Feeding the World in the 21st Century” came out in 2010, there were no vertical farms in the world. Today, there are vertical farms throughout the U.S. and around the globe.

Part one of our interview, episode 95, covered Dick’s nearly 30 years of research into intracellular parasitism and his focus on Trichinella spiralis, one of the world’s largest intracellular parasites.

Dick is the author of five books, including “People, Parasites and Plowshares.” His most recent book, “Waist Deep in Water,” is a memoir of his life-long love of fly fishing, a topic we had so much fun discussing with Dick that we touch on it in today’s episode as well as in part one of our interview with Dick.

Show notes:

[00:02:08] Ken opens part two of our interview with Dick by pointing out that there were no vertical farms in the world when Dick’s book “The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21stCentury”came out in 2010. Ken asks Dick to give an overview of the idea behind vertical farms and also discuss how the idea gained momentum.

[00:06:33} Dick explains how the students’ original concept of rooftop gardens evolved into the idea of growing plants inside buildings.

[00:08:14] Dick talks about the growth of vertical farming since 2011 and how Japan is the country that has the highest number of vertical farms.

[00:09:26] Ken describes a vertical farm located in the heart of Jackson Hole, Wyo., called Vertical Harvest. It’s a 13,500 square-foot green house that can grow produce that is equivalent to 10 acers of traditional farming. This vertical farm sells produce year-round, mostly to local restaurants and grocery stores, but also to individuals who want to go onsite to buy their produce directly. Ken asks if this is a good example of what Dick was hoping for when he conceived of the idea of a vertical farm.

[00:13:16] Ken asks Dick to address the criticisms of vertical farming and how the cost of building these structures outweighs the advantages.

[00:17:14] Dawn points out that Dick was named teacher of the year eight times during his time at Columbia and asks him for his thoughts about what it takes to become a good science teacher.

[00:19:49] Dawn asks about Dickson’s recently published memoir about his love affair with fly fishing, titled “Waist Deep in Water.”

[00:20:39] Dick talks about the literature professor that “Waist Deep” is dedicated to and how the professor inspired Dick to start writing.

[00:22:07] Dickson tells the story of how he caught his first trout.

[00:29:04] Ken ends the interview by asking about Dick’s favorite Shakespeare quote that Dick says gets to the heart of what really matters in life.

Links:

Dickson Despommier bio

“The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21stCentury”

https://www.verticalharvestjackson.com/our-mission

“People, Parasites and Plowshares: Learning From Our Body’s Most Terrifying Invaders”

The Living River website

“Waist Deep in Water”

Learn more about IHMC

STEM-Talk homepage

Ken Ford bio

Dawn Kernagis bio

Sep 24 2019

33mins

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Episode 95: Dickson Despommier talks about 30 years of research into intracellular parasitism

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Our guest today is Dr. Dickson Despommier, a microbiologist and ecologist who is the emeritus professor of Public and Environmental Heath at Columbia University.  Our conversation with Dick covered a variety of topics and ran so long that we divided his interview into two parts.

Part one covers the nearly 30 years Dick spent conducting research on intracellular parasitism, especially Trichinella spiralis, one of the world’s largest intracellular parasites.

Part two of our interview with Dick focuses on vertical farming. In 1999, Dick and his students came up with the idea of raising crops in tall buildings. When his book, “The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21stCentury,” came out in 2010, there were no vertical farms in the world. Today, there are commercial vertical farms not only throughout the United States, but also in Korea, Japan, China, England, Scotland, The Netherlands, France, Russia, Dubai, Canada and a host of other countries.

Dick is the author of five books, including “People, Parasites and Plowshares.” His most recent book, “Waist Deep in Water,” is a memoir of his life-long love of fly fishing, a topic we had so much fun discussing that we touch on it in part one and part two of our interview with Dick.

Show notes:

[00:03:40] Ken begins the interview by mentioning that he and Dawn are great fans of two podcasts that Dick helps co-host, “This Week in Parasitism”and “This Week in Virology.”  Ken points out that “This Week in Virology” launched in 2008, making Dick an early adapter of science-based podcasting. Ken asks Dick how he got involved in podcasting.

[00:06:24] Dawn mentions that Dick was born in New Orleans, and that his parents moved across the country to San Francisco when he was only a year old. Dawn goes on to mention that as a kid Dick liked to play outdoors and collect pollywogs and dragonflies. Dick talks about how his mother encouraged him to bring home spiders and frogs and other specimens he collected on his outdoor adventures.

[00:07:14] Ken mentions that when Dick was 11 his family moved again to New Jersey, asking how that came about.

[00:09:06] Dawn asks about the beginning of Dick’s lifelong love of fishing that started when he was a child.

[00:11:54] After Dick talks about recently spending 20 days in Wyoming, Ken and Dick begin a conversation about their favorite rivers in the state to go fishing.

[00:13:57] Ken and Dick talk about their fishing bait of choice when they were kids: Wonder Bread. Ken goes on to ask Dick how his love of fishing also evolved into an interest and fascination with wading into creeks, streams and river beds.

[00:14:56] Dick talks about his website “The Living River.”

[00:16:39] Dawn asks about Dick’s experience with his high school biology teacher who recognized his curiosity and who played a pivotal role in shaping Dick’s scientific career.

[00:20:26] Dawn mentions that Dick almost didn’t go to college, but that he eventually jumped in academics bigtime and earned a bachelor’s degree at Fairleigh, a master’s at Columbia, and his doctorate at Notre Dame.

[00:22:29] Dawn asks about Dick’s experience during his postdoc at Rockefeller University where there were 12 Nobel prize winners who would sit down with him and ask questions about his research.

[00:23:54] Ken asks Dick about his decision to return to  Columbia after his postdoc.

[00:27:00] Ken mentions that Dick’s experience at Rockefeller cemented his approach to teaching. Ken asks Dick to talk about how when he returned to Columbia that he became as equally engaged in teaching as he was in research.

[00:30:18] Dawn asks Dick about his extensive research into the parasite Trichinella spiralis, something Dick has described as “the worm that would be a virus.”

[00:38:09] Dawn asks about Dick’s 1998 article for Parasitology Todayabout the Nurse Cell-Parasite complex of Trichinella spiralis, and how it is unlike anything else in nature.

[00:47:19] Ken mentions that Emma Wilson, a researcher who has spent more than 15 years studying Toxoplasma gondii, was the guest on episode 93 of STEM-Talk. Ken asks Dick to discuss what is special about T. gondii.

[00:51:28] Ken mentions that just recently researchers at the University of Wisconsin Madison have discovered why cats are the definitive host for Toxoplasma gondii.

[00:55:33] Dawn asks about Dickson’s interest and research into ecotones, or the transition area between two biomes, a zone of high disease transmission that leads to the spread of schistosomiasis malaria and a variety of parasitic worms.

[01:00:03] Ken asks about the prevalence of hookworm in the South following the Civil War and how eradicating it helped revive the Southern economy.

[01:06:47] Ken points out that John D. Rockefeller and others thought they had noticed a certain malaise among many in the American South in the years after the war.  Rockefeller put together a commission that was comprised of luminaries across many disciplines who examined possible causes ranging from spiritual to social to psychological to medical. Ken asks Dick to elaborate on this interesting episode and explain how it was connected to Italian tunnel workers?

[01:13:56] Ken ends part one of the interview with a humorous story about  how he dug through solid rock to build his family’s outhouse in Maine.

Links:

Dickson Despommier bio

“The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21stCentury”

“People, Parasites and Plowshares: Learning From Our Body’s Most Terrifying Invaders”

“Waist Deep in Water”

Learn more about IHMC

STEM-Talk homepage

Ken Ford bio

Dawn Kernagis bio

Sep 11 2019

1hr 16mins

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Episode 94: John Newman discusses how the ketogenic diet and fasting regulate the genes and pathways that control aging

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Our guest today is Dr. John Newman, a geriatrician and researcher who is well-known for a 2017 study that found a ketogenic diet reduced the mid-life mortality of aging mice while also improving their memory and healthspan.

John is an assistant professor at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and a geriatrician in the Division of Geriatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. He also is a physician who works with older adults in the San Francisco VA Medical Center.

At Buck, John studies the molecular details of how diet and fasting regulate the genes and pathways that control aging. He particularly focuses on the ketone body beta-hydroxybutyrate and how its molecular signaling activities involving epigenetics and inflammation regulate aging and memory in mice.

Show notes:

[00:02:51] Dawn opens the interview asking John what it was like growing up in Long Island.

[00:04:20] Dawn mentions that John was described as a pretty geeky kid growing up, and asks him about his childhood.

[00:05:40] Ken asks John if being the type of kid who would do all the homework in his textbooks in the first couple of months annoyed his classmates.

[00:07:34] Dawn asks why John decided to go to Yale University.

[00:08:45] Mentioning that Yale doesn’t have a pre-med program, Dawn asks what John decided to major in.

[00:10:15] John explains how he met his wife at Yale.

[00:11:28] Dawn asks John why he traveled across the country to the University of Washington after graduating from Yale.

[00:12:26] Dawn asks why John decided to focus his graduate work on the progeroid Cockayne syndrome.

[00:14:15] John discusses his decision to go to the University of California, San Francisco for his residency.

[00:16:05] Dawn asks if John immediately joined the faculty at San Francisco after his residency.

[00:17:03] Ken asks John about his work to improve the care of older adults and help them maintain their independence as they age. Ken asks for an overview of the work John and his colleagues do in this area at the Buck Institute

[00:18:39] Ken mentions that a lot of John’s work focuses on the molecular details of how diet and fasting regulate the genes and pathways that control aging. Ken asks John to elaborate on this work.

[00:20:04] Dawn asks what specifically attracted John to the idea of studying the ketogenic diet as an intervention in mid to later life as opposed to a diet consumed habitually throughout life.

[00:23:12] Dawn mentions that John and Eric Verdin, who recruited John to the Buck institute, share an interest in looking at ketone bodies as signaling metabolites, a topic they have written about.

[00:26:21] Ken talks about a conference he and Dawn attended on CBD and seizures, where Ken made the point that ketones are a metabolite of THC.

[00:27:52] Ken asks John to go into more detail about how ketone bodies may link environmental cues such as diet to the regulation of aging.

[00:29:08] Ken talks about how it seems clear that ketone bodies are emerging as crucial regulators of metabolic health and longevity via their ability to regulate HDAC (histone deacetylases) activity and thereby epigenetic gene regulation. He asks John to discuss how beta hydroxybutyrate may be an increasingly useful and important signaling molecule as we age.

[00:34:24] Dawn mentions that John and his colleagues published paper in 2017 in Cell Metabolism titled “Ketogenic Diet Reduces Midlife Mortality and Improves Aging in Mice.” Dawn asks why John chose a cyclical rather than continuous ketogenic diet for this study.

[00:37:56] Dawn asks why John decided to conduct the test of physiological function while the ketogenic diet group was off the diet, and on a standard high-carbohydrate diet.

[00:40:02] Dawn mentions that Megan Roberts and her colleagues at theUniversity of California Davis were also conducting studies on the effects of a ketogenic diet on mice around the same time as John’s study, and that both were published in the same issue of Cell Metabolism. Dawn goes on to mention that Megan was recently interviewed on episode 92 of STEM-Talk where she discussed her paper,  “A Ketogenic Diet Extends the Longevity and Healthspan in Adult Mice.” Dawn adds that both Megan’s and John’s studies had similar findings but that Megan’s had the added caveat that the ketogenic diet may also improve strength and coordination. Dawn asks what John’s takeaways were from Megan’s paper and how do the two papers differ?

[00:44:50] Ken mentions that he is personally looking at the effect of the ketogenic diet as a way to avoid sarcopenia and other aspects of aging.

[00:46:42] John discusses possible reasons why the ketogenic diet has such pleiotropic effects on people suffering from diseases such as type 2 diabetes, epilepsy, inflammation etc.

[00:50:17] Dawn mentions that one of the most frequent criticisms of the diet comes from nutritionists who say “show me the five-year data,” she asks how John would respond to that.

[00:54:25] Ken asks about the “arctic variant” mutation, and how this mutant might affect ketosis. He asks John to describe the mutation and how he thinks it might be affecting ketone metabolism in the Inuit population, and how the scientific community might go about investigating this further.

[01:00:06] Dawn asks if John has used exogenous ketones in his studies.

[01:02:21] Dawn asks what the right overlap between the ketogenic diet and exogenous ketones is, and if exogenous ketones might be synergistic with the ketogenic diet.

[01:04:17] Ken asks if there is a threshold or target blood level of ketones for people on the ketogenic diet and using exogenous ketones.

[01:07:27] Ken mentions that another metabolite that has been shown to affect life span is alpha-ketoglutaric. Ken asks John to speculate as to if the mechanism of life span extension seen here is similar to BHB and if the two might be synergistic.

[01:09:30] Dawn mentions that in addition to his work as a researcher at the Buck institute, John is also a geriatrician who cares for older adults who have been hospitalized at the San Francisco VA Medical Center. Dawn asks what sort of work John does with older individuals.

[01:11:25] John discusses his perspective on the education and training of future geroscientists.

[01:15:01] Dawn asks what the most promising interventions being investigated in geroscience are right now.

[01:23:05] Dawn comments that John has been in the Bay area for more than 10 years, going on to ask if it is true that his main interests outside of work are volleyball baseball and food.

[01:24:46] Ken ends the interview mentioning that a little birdie told him that John is a connoisseur of the San Francisco pastry-shop scene.

Links:

John Newman UCSF bio

Newman Lab website

John Newman ResearchGate profile

Learn more about IHMC

STEM-Talk homepage

Ken Ford bio

Dawn Kernagis bio

Aug 27 2019

1hr 28mins

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Episode 93: Emma Wilson talks about Toxoplasma gondii infection and its consequences

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Our guest today is Dr. Emma Wilson, a researcher who has spent the past 15 years studying Toxoplasma gondii, a protozoan parasite that infects about a third of the world’s population.

She is a native of Scotland and a professor of biomedical science at the University of California, Riverside.

Toxoplasma gondii is a single-celled organism found in all mammals. The primary focus of Emma’s research is the immune response in the brain following Toxoplasma gondii infection. Her 2016 research paper in the online journal PLOS Pathogens connected the Toxoplasma gondii to brain dysfunction.

Show notes:

[00:03:05] Emma begins the interview taking about growing up was born in Glasgow with parents who were in the acting business.

[00:03:38] Emma shares how her father advised her to keep all of her doors open, which lead her as a youth to pursue everything she found interesting.

[00:04:30] Dawn asks if Emma decided to major in ecology in an effort to help save the rainforests.

[00:05:28] Ken asks about Emma’s experience with a “proverbial crazy professor” who showed her a room full of rattlesnakes and how that experience led to Emma’s curiosity in immunology.

[00:06:54] Ken asks whether if it’s that she was paid to stand out in the bush so that mosquitos could feast upon her during a research trip to Tanzania.

[00:08:16] Ken asks if Emma’s experience in Africa was limited to mosquitos or if she was able to see some of the impressive wildlife there.

[00:09:26] Emma discusses her experiences after her research trip to Africa and her decision to pursue work in immunology at Dr. William Harnett’s lab at the University of Strathclyde.

[00:10:32] Dawn asks about the research Emma did in Harnett’s lab.

[00:11:46] Dawn mentions that Emma had the opportunity to attend a conference in Philadelphia where she met many interesting people. She goes on to ask about the conference and how she ended up spending the next five and a half years at the University of Pennsylvania.

[00:13:52] Dawn mentions another conference Emma was able to attend, this one in California, where she stood out for asking so many questions. Dawn asks about how this led her to go to work at University of California, Riverside.

[00:16:50] Ken mentions that the primary focus of Emma’s research at Riverside is the immune response in the brain following Toxoplasma gondii infection, further mentioning that in an episode of the podcast “This Week in Parasitism” Dr. Dickson Despommier referred to Toxoplasma gondii as the most successful parasite on Earth. Ken asks Emma to give an overview of what Toxoplasma gondii is and does.

[00:18:58] Dawn asks why Toxoplasma gondii has such a high infection rate in countries such as France and Brazil, where close to 80 percent of people are infected. In the U.S., only 15 to 30 percent of people are infected.

[00:20:49] Ken mentions that Eskimos, who’s traditional diet is rich in raw meat, have an almost 100 percent infection rate.

[00:21:19] Ken asks how the Toxoplasma parasite prevents digestion in the stomach.

[00:23:12] Emma discusses how most cases of Toxoplasma in healthy adults present little to no consequences of infection, but that congenitally infected children or people who are immunocompromised can have serious consequences.

[00:25:33] Ken asks how an immunocompetent individual keeps the infection at bay and if there is any risk associated with that constantly active immune response in the brain to this infection.

[00:27:32] Ken explains that cats are the only definitive host of the toxoplasmosis parasite because it can only complete its sexual reproduction cycle in the gut of a cat. He goes on to explain that cats eat rats, and sometimes rats eat cat feces, which infects the rats with Toxoplasma gondii, When the cats eat these rats the cats perpetuate the cycle. Ken asks Emma to explain how the infection changes the fundamental fear response in rodents that they naturally have to cats.

[30:48] Ken mentions amazing videos on the web showing infected mice approaching cats and rubbing up against them affectionately.

[00:31:50] Dawn asks if vegetarians are safe from Toxoplasma gondii infection, given that humans typically contract the parasite via uncooked meat from intermediate hosts such as sheep, cows, goats, and pigs.

[00:33:03] Dawn asks if the relationship between the toxoplasmosis parasite and their host can be mutually beneficial.

[00:34:24] Dawn asks if seafood can lead to infection.

[00:35:33] Ken mentions that there is presently no vaccine for Toxoplasma gondii; however, there are commonsense preventative measures such as pregnant women avoiding cat litter and wearing gloves while gardening. Ken goes on to ask if there are any other ways to reduce chances of infection.

[00:37:42] Dawn mentions that Emma and her colleagues at Riverside had a 2016 paper in the journal PLOA Pathogensthat described how Toxoplasma infection leads to a disruption of neurotransmitters in the brain. Dawn goes on to mention that Emma postulated that the infection triggers neurological disease in those who are already predisposed to such diseases.

[00:41:45] Dawn asks if the sex of an animal changes the effect of toxoplasmosis.

[00:42:36] Ken asks if Emma thinks there would be different effects on animals in the wild, in terms of toxoplasmosis infections, or if the laboratory experiments provide a good model for infection.

[00:43:21] Ken mentions that in terms of neurological disease, Toxoplasma’s strongest correlation is with schizophrenia, but Ken mentions that Emma believes the parasite’s presence is a precipitating factor.

[00:44:45] Emma explains the arguments for and against the belief that toxoplasmosis infections are asymptomatic in most humans and acts as a silent partner that serves no role.

[00:47:01] Dawn asks if we should be looking into the effects of eradicating toxoplasma in asymptomatic humans, and, if so, how would this be accomplished.

[00:48:04] Dawn mentions that there are some reports that humans who display risk-taking behavior are more likely to be infected with Toxoplasma gondii, including a higher likelihood in individuals who die in motorcycle accidents as well as entrepreneurs. Dawn asks if there is sufficient evidence to suggest that Toxoplasma gondii might alter risk taking behaviors in humans.

[00:49:42] Dawn brings up that after the aforementioned 2016 paper  was published, Emma was quoted as saying that for the first time it has been shown that the direct disruption of a major neurotransmitter in the brain resulted from the infection.  Dawn asks Emma if her research has since then been focused more on the mechanisms of the parasite.

[00:53:07] Ken mentions that in 2016, Sugden et al published results of a study looking at a cohort of early middle-aged individuals that suggested Toxoplasma gondii infection does not result in increased susceptibility to neuropsychiatric disorders, poor impulse control or impaired neurocognitive ability. In addition, they found no association between infection and aberrant personality types. He asks why these findings do not reflect other contemporary research on Toxoplasma gondii.

[00:56:12] Dawn asks about Emma’s collaboration with Michael White, with whom she is looking at Toxoplasma gondii cyst formation.

[00:57:49] Emma discusses the findings of her2017 paper “Brains and Brawn: Toxoplasma Infections of the Central Nervous System and Skeletal Muscle” in which she discussed how Toxoplasma infection can affect skeletal muscle.

[00:59:04] Dawn asks if these effects related to skeletal muscle also occur in people who are asymptomatic.

[01:00:47] Ken asks if there might be a way to mitigate the impact of acute and chronic Toxoplasma gondii infection via dietary manipulation or supplementation.  Ken referenced a 2016 paper published in PLOS One, in which a Chinese research team reported that T. gondii seems to hijack the host’s PPAR signaling pathway to downregulate the metabolism of fatty acids, lipids and energy in the liver.  Ken said that he wonders if a ketogenic diet or supplementation with exogenous ketones might be beneficial?

[01:02:37] Dawn asks what the future of Toxoplasma research should look like given that the broad impact of Toxoplasma gondii on international society and economics is poorly understood.

[01:04:22] Ken mentions that in reference to Toxoplasma gondii, there were a whole spat of papers that sensationalized the nature of the infection. He goes on to ask what responsibility should university press offices and the researchers themselves have in preventing clickbait and communicating science effectively.

[01:06:58] Dawn mentions that when Emma moved to Riverside she decided to focus on work and not getting into a relationship, but despite this ended up getting married and now has a busy household.

[01:07:57] Dawn mentions that when Emma became pregnant her husband took care of the cat litter. Dawn asks if he still changes the cat litter today.

[01:08:19] Dawn asks if Emma has any other final words of advice for people trying to avoid Toxoplasma gondii infection.

Links:

Emma Wilson UC Riverside faculty page

Learn more about IHMC

STEM-Talk homepage

Ken Ford bio

Dawn Kernagis bio

Aug 06 2019

1hr 11mins

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Episode 92: Megan Roberts discusses the potential of a ketogenic diet to extend healthspan and lifespan

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Our guest today is Megan Roberts, a research scientist who conducted an interesting study that showeda ketogenic diet extended the longevity and healthspan of adult mice.  This study has been discussed in several earlier episodes of STEM-Talk.

Megan conducted her research while earning a master’s degree in nutritional biology at the University of California, Davis.

Today, she is the scientific director at Nourish Balance Thrive, an online health-coaching company where Megan helps people optimize their heath and performance.

Show notes:

[00:02:53] Dawn begins the interview mentioning that Megan grew up in Northern California and asks Megan what she was like as a child.

[00:03:20] Megan talks about how her interest in science started.

[00:03:38] Dawn asks Megan how she became a martial arts instructor, teaching teen-agers as well as children as young as five years old.

[00:04:02] Megan talks about her decision to attend the University of California, Davis.

[00:04:16] Megan explains why she initially want to major in biochemistry, but decided toward the end of her freshman year to switch majors.

[00:04:42] Ken asks Megan about her decision to stay at UC Davis to earn a master’s degree in nutritional biology.

[00:05:08] Megan talks about the privilege of having open-minded professors and peers who were a part of her nutritional biology program at UC Davis.

[00:06:07] Ken mentions that part of Megan’s thesis ended up in Cell Metabolism, in the form of a paper titeld, “A Ketogenic Diet Extends Longevity and Healthspan in Adult Mice.”The paper, Ken points out, has been discussed in several episodes of STEM-Talk. He asks Megan about the motivations behind her study.

[00:07:41] Megan describes the three different diets used for the mouse studies.

[00:08:30] Dawn mentions that an important aspect of the study was that all of the mice were fed the same number of calories every day. She asks Megan to explain the significance of this parameter.

[00:09:23] Megan describes the various markers of physiological function that were measured how the study yielded interesting results in terms of healthspan in the mice.

[00:10:14] Dawn asks how the memories of the mice were tested. Dawn also asks Megan to go into detail on the finding that mice on the ketogenic diet were having their memories preserved for longer.

[00:11:13] Ken asks Megan how she tested the grip strength of mice.

[00:12:05] Megan talks about the two areas of healthspan that saw the most dramatic effects with the ketogenic diet: memory and the preservation of motor-function.

[00:12:39] Ken asks if Megan and her colleagues were surprised by the finding that lifespan was increased by 14 percent in the mice fed a ketogenic diet.

[00:13:08] Dawn mentions that the ketogenic diet came out on top in the study, followed by the low-carb diet. Dawn mentions that those mice on the low-carb diet, however, surprisingly gained weight asks Megan is she was surprised by this.

[00:14:35] Ken asks what lead Megan to the idea of studying the ketogenic diet as an intervention in midlife, as opposed to being a habit throughout life.

[00:15:27] Dawn asks how well Megan thinks these mouse models are likely to translate to humans.

[00:17:05] Ken asks what experiments Megan would have done to extend her findings reported in the Cell Metabolism paper if she had managed to have more time, funding and resources.

[00:17:52] Dawn mentions that Megan’s study suggests that the metabolic changes that accompany carbohydrate restriction might indeed help increase lifespan. However, Dawn asks Megan about ketone bodies themselves (AcAc and BhB) and their potential role in the extension of healthspan.

[00:18:13] Ken asks about Megan’s findings in regards to a tissue dependent mTORC1 signaling, in the context of skeletal muscle and the ketogenic diet.

[00:20:26] Dawn asks Megan for her take on the tissue specific effects of ketones that she observed in her work.

[00:21:12] Megan explains the effects of the ketogenic diet on insulin sensitivity. In her study, the ketogenic diet did not impair insulin sensitivity while the low-carb diet did.

[00:22:55] Megan explains the key differences in the design and interpretation of her study versus a similar paper from Eric Verdin’s group, which reported that a cyclical ketogenic diet, but not a consistent one, improved healthspan in older mice.

[00:24:13] Dawn asks Megan about her thoughts on the enrichment of a standard diet with exogenous ketones, and if there could be healthspan benefits from that.

[00:24:47] Ken mentions a recent paper by Poffé, which suggested that a ketone ester can help prevent some of the negative effects of “over-reaching” in endurance training.

[00:25:55] Ken asks if exogenous ketones have their most important effects when taken post-exercise, rather than pre-exercise.

[00:27:02] Dawn asks if there are other untapped uses of endogenous or exogenous ketosis that people may not be considering.

[00:27:39] Dawn asks Megan what her thoughts are on the communication and interpretation of science of this nature in the public domain, and what responsibilities she feels that university press officers and researchers have in this process.

[00:29:34] Dawn mentions that Megan has taken over as chief scientific officer at Nourish Balance Thrive from Tommy Wood, who was interviewed on episode 47 and episode 48 of Stem-Talk. She asks what has led her to decide on her current career and why she has chosen to stay working with athletes as opposed to continuing graduate or medical school.

[00:31:16] Megan explains what she does as a health coach.

[00:31:45] Dawn asks if the general public could benefit from health coaching

[00:32:57] Ken mentions the explosion of research and interest into the gut microbiome and recommends episode 20 of STEM-Talk, an interview with Alessio Fasano, as a primer. Ken then asks Megan about her own quest to recover her gut health, which she has discussed on the Nourish Balance Thrive podcast.

[00:35:31] Dawn asks about Megan’s black-and-white, “type A” personality that can sometimes get her into trouble as a fitness enthusiast.

[00:36:04] Megan talks about her recent article titled, “Why Your Diet Isn’t Working: Under Eating and Overtraining.”

[00:40:00] Ken mentions the blood chemistry calculator project that Megan is working on with Tommy Wood, which uses machine learning algorithms to predict things that are going on biochemically in people based on blood chemistry.

[00:41:43] Megan talks about what her exercise regime and diet look like today.

[00:42:40] Dawn asks about Megan’s first conversation with Tommy Wood, which was about why eating like a Sumo Wrestler was the best way to gain weight.

Links:

Nourish Balance Thrive archives

Learn more about IHMC

STEM-Talk homepage

Ken Ford bio

Dawn Kernagis bio

Jul 16 2019

45mins

Play

Episode 91: Irina and Michael Conboy explain tissue repair and stem-cell rejuvenation

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Our guests today are Drs. Irina and Michael Conboy of the Department of Bioengineering at the University of California Berkeley. In their lab at Berkeley, the Conboys investigate the process of tissue repair in the body in an effort to determine why damaged tissues do not productively repair as the body ages.

In today’s interview, you will hear the Conboys talk about their early research and a fascinating technique they pioneered called heterochronic parabiosis, where the couple took a young mouse and an older mouse and sutured them together so the animals blood and organs. The Conboys found that the older mouse benefited from this fusion, its aged stem cells becoming rejuvenated and its muscle tissues becoming functionally younger.

Since then, the Conboys’ follow-up research has provided fascinating insights into stem-cell niche engineering, tissue repair, and stem-cell aging and rejuvenation. In 2015, they published an important study showing that high levels of the protein TGF-β1 impaired the ability of stem cells to repair tissues. While their experiments also showed that giving old animals young blood appeared to have some benefit to old stem cells, the Conboys’ most recent work provides compelling evidence suggesting the more interesting benefits are instead produced by a dilution of harmful signals in old blood.

The research coming out of the Conboy lab has profound implications in terms of postponing the onset of age-related diseases as well as the prevention of such degenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis and sarcopenia.

Show notes:

[00:03:23] Dawn opens the interview asking Irina about her time as a gymnast in the Soviet Union.

[00:03:56] Irina talks about how she became interested in biology.

[00:04:36] Michael describes how he was a bit of a nerd who spent a lot of time outdoors as a kid studying bugs.

[00:05:29] Ken asks what Michael’s plans were when he started his education at Harvard.

[00:06:00] Ken inquires as to what it was about lab work that attracted Michael to the point where he abandoned medical school and focused on research instead.

[00:06:56] Irina tells the story of her first overseas visit to Boston and how a female friend of hers had set her up with multiple dates for her visit before her plane had even touched down in the states.

[00:09:06] Michael recounts the story of his first time in Moscow, where he asked Irina if she wanted to hang out.

[00:10:52] Dawn mentions that after graduating, Michael got a job as a lab tech at Harvard, but eventually moved to Philadelphia to join the lab a friend of his was starting. Michael goes on to explain how he and Irina eventually became professional lab rats together there.

[00:13:44] Michael explains how he would likely still be a lab tech if it were not for Irina and her desire to study aging, and how that inspired him to pursue his doctorate at Stanford.

[00:15:10] Dawn asks Irina about her pursuit of a Ph.D. at Stamford in auto-immunity in the lab of Patricia Jones.

[00:18:30] Dawn asks Irina to explain her discovery that Notch Signaling had the potential to regenerate aged muscle, a discovery she made during her post-doc work at Stamford.

[00:21:30] Dawn mentions that Irina finished her post-doc work before Michael did, which allowed her to get work at a competing laboratory. Dawn asks if working at a competing labs created tension between the two of them.

[00:24:26] Ken asks Irina what led her to look into reactivating old stem cells and whether that might delay or even reverse the onset of aging.

[00:26:00] Michael talks about his inspiration for the parabiosis experiment, which involved two mice, one old and one young, being statured together.

[00:30:12] Ken asks what the results of the parabiosis experiment were.

[00:31:57] Ken mentions that the 2005 paper in Nature, which documented the findings of the parabiosis experiment, sparked an interesting reaction from the media that included headlines about “baby boomer vampires.” Ken asks the Conboys if they were annoyed with the overly simplistic interpretations of their study’s findings.

[00:33:27] Dawn asks about Michael and Irina’s research into finding an inhibitory compound in old blood that turned out to be transforming TGF Beta 1.

[00:37:44] Ken brings up Michael and Irina’s 2016 paper, published in Nature Communications,in which they described a new, more definitive, experiment than the parabiosis experiment. This blood exchange experiment, aimed to distinguish whether there was a curative property of young blood, or an inhibitory compound being filtered out of old blood, exchanged only blood between the two animals, rather than all of their organ systems.

[00:40:55] Michael explains that those experiments came at a time when funding was drying up for the Conboy’s lab. He talks about how discussions with Aubrey de Grey from the SENS Research Foundation aided him and Irina with their experiments.

[00:45:23] Dawn asks why Michael and Irina about their criticism of the company “Ambrosia,” a start up in Florida that claims it can combat aging by infusing plasma from young donors into its customers.

[00:47:15] Ken says the coverage of Ambrosia has sparked an interesting question of whether or not young people should store their own blood for future transfusions. He asks if anyone has modeled that in mice.

[00:51:46] Dawn wonders if it’s the age of a stem-cell’s environment that is the key. If so, she asks the Conboys if their research and findings are going to discourage the use of cell-based therapies to treat disorders related to aging?

[00:52:45] Dawn inquires as to how the Conboy’s and their colleagues in the bioengineering department at Southern Cal are developing “youthful micro-niches” for cell and tissue transplantation.

[00:54:11] Ken asks Irina to talk about her group’s 2014 paper published in Nature Communications,that showed that oxytocin in mice is vital for muscle maintenance and regeneration, and that the lack thereof leads to premature sarcopenia.

[00:56:37] Irina elaborates on the comment noted by Wendy Cousins in a media piece associated with the previously mentioned paper, where she said that oxytocin could become a viable alternative to hormone replacement therapy as a way to combat the symptoms of both male and female aging.

[00:58:03] Dawn notes off-label use of intranasal oxytocin is now widely used. Although there have been some human trials of oxytocin associated with mental disorders such as autism, schizophrenia and dementia, it would seem appropriate to have human trials aimed at the potential for oxytocin to prevent, slow, or ameliorate some of the undesirable consequences of aging. Dawn asks the Conboys if they know of any studies underway looking at oxytocin explicitly in the context of aging in humans?

[00:59:43] Ken asks Michael if the intranasal oxytocin would be expected to yield the same benefits in muscle as a subcutaneous injection, or if the dose wouldn’t be sufficient.

[01:02:33] Ken notes a variety of ways that aging can be slowed, from oxytocin to fasting, and asks Michael about a multifaceted approach to aging.

[01:06:27] Ken mentions that a group working at MIT has reported benefits in mice fed lactobacillus reuteri, which has been found to upregulate oxytocin significantly, and that lactobacillus reuteri counteracts age-associated sarcopenia as well.

[01:11:58] Ken asks the Conboys what scientific question they would like to answer if they were given unlimited resources and how would they go about answering it.

[00:14:05] Ken asks Irina about a bumper sticker she keeps in her office that says “don’t believe everything you think.”

[01:15:30] Dawn mentions that Michael and Irina have been married for more than 25 years and that although they don’t have any children, that someone dropping by their house might likely see “Sesame Street” on the TV. Dawn asks the Conboys about their fondness for “Sesame Street.”

Links:

Irina Conboy UC Berkeley page

Michael Conboy UC Berkeley page

Conboy Lab homepage

Learn more about IHMC

STEM-Talk homepage

Ken Ford bio

Dawn Kernagis bio

Jul 02 2019

1hr 19mins

Play

Episode 90: Dawn and Ken answer listener questions

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Ken and Dawn return in today’s podcast to answer more listener questions.

Back at the beginning year, Ken and Dawn hosted their first Ask Me Anything episode. In that episode, they promised not to wait another three years and 83 episodes before once again addressing listeners’ questions.

A steady stream of new questions have poured in since that first Ask Me Anything episode. Today, Ken and Dawn take turns answering questions about exogenous ketones, daily allowances of protein, healthy fats, black holes, long-duration space flights, decompression sickness, the future of AI, sloppy science, and much, much more.

Show notes:

[00:04:13] Dawn starts the episode with a listener question for Ken, which is in regards to the Valter Longo interview, episode 64,and the Stuart Phillips interview, episode 84.The listener became confused about protein intake because Longo said that more than 100 grams of protein a day accelerates aging, while Phillips said that the recommended daily allowance for protein is too low. After going online to get some clarification about the right intake of protein, the listener became even confused and asks if Ken could provide some insight and clarity on the issue.

[00:08:40] A listener asks Dawn about her research on exogenous ketones.

[00:09:44] A listener wonders if Ken has read the 2017 paper titled, “Is Sociopolitical Egalitarianism Related to Bodily and Facial Formidability in Men,”and if so, to share his thoughts on it.

[00:11:52] Dawn reads another question addressed to Ken about the utility of a paper out of Harvard that appeared in February.That paper described an observational epidemiological study showing a strong association between the ability to do pushups and cardiovascular events.

[00:14:49] A listener says he has read one of Dr. Ford’s papers criticizing the Turing Test, and wonders why he let Dr. Epstein off the hook during episode 89 of Stem-Talkwhen the topic came up.

[00:16:02] Dawn asks another question on behalf of a listener who asks about Ken’s comments on the previous AMA episodewhere he expressed some reservations about canola oil.

[00:19:27] Dawn follows up by asking Ken which oils he favors.

[00:20:13] Another listener asks Ken about his recent appointment to the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence and wonders what the issues the commission is investigating.

[00:20:54] A listener asks Ken about the so called “futurist” types who foreshadow a dark future where AI has a doom-and-gloom effect on humanity at large. The listener asks Ken to expand on his brighter and more hopeful vision of the future where AI and intelligent systems help humanity.

[00:22:44] Dawn asks Ken about the data gathered by the European Space Agency (ESA) since the launching of the Gaia mission, which is cataloguing the composition, brightness, positions, and directions of stars in the Milky Way.

[00:25:13] Dawn is asked about a paper published in late 2018 in the proceedings of the national academy of sciences that was titled, “Space Radiation Triggers Persistent Stress Response, Increases Senescent Signaling, and Decreases Cell Migration in Mouse Intestine.”The paper suggests that space radiation could pose a risk for the gastrointestinal tracts of astronauts

[00:28:47] Ken asks Dawn a question about her involvement in a record-breaking freshwater-cave dive.

[00:31:01] A listener, asking another diving questions of Dawn, wonders if there are any biological or genetic factors that might influence individual susceptibility to decompression sickness or the bends.

[00:33:04] Dawn is asked for her thoughts on what the research community has learned since Gena Shaw’s 2015 landmark paper, “New Study Suggests Brain Is Connected to the Lymphatic System: What the Discovery Could Mean for Neurology.”

[00:36:15] Ken asks Dawn if sleeping position has any effect on the ability of the brain’s lymphatic system to flush out metabolic waist.

[00:37:02] A listener asks Dawn about a 2019 paper published in the proceedings of the national academy of sciences, titled “Brain Ventricular Changes Induced by Long-Duration Space Flight.”

[00:38:16] Ken is asked by a listener to explain the process of photographing a black hole.

[00:39:49] Another listener asks Ken, via Facebook, about the future of space exploration, as well as the future of human and machine teaming.

[00:41:15] A listener writes to Dawn and asks about her involvement in the NASA and ESA 60-day bedrest study, and if she can explain what it entails.

[00:43:53] Dawn asks Ken what he thinks the biggest problems with science are, which prompts Ken to cite Dr. John Ioannidis, who was interviews on episode 77.Ioannidis is a Stanford professor who has been described by “BMJ” as “the scourge of sloppy science.”

[00:46:28] Ken is asked about modern technology’s effect on democracy,  and if it is feasible to fix the issues that arising. Ken’s answer includes  references to his interview with Dr. Robert Epstein, episode 89.

[00:48:46] A listener asks Ken about his thoughts on mental health and how one can improve mental health and wellness?

[00:51:54] Dawn reads a question posed by a listener about self-reinvention, asking if Ken were to reinvent himself again, what would Ken’s next professional path look like?

[00:53:29] Ken asks Dawn the same question, asking if she were to reinvent herself again, what direction would she take?

[00:54:48] Dawn asks about Ken’s new bike that was built for him in Wyoming, and what sort of riding he plans to do there?

[00:57:43] Ken closes the interview with a final question for Dawn about her past connection with professional hockey.

Jun 12 2019

1hr 1min

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Episode 89: Robert Epstein reflects on his career and the threat big tech poses to privacy and democracy

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Our guest today is Dr. Robert Epstein, a psychologist, professor and journalist who is the former editor of Psychology Today.

Robert is currently a co-founder and the senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology in Vista, California. He has had a distinguished career as a scientist and journalist researching and writing about advances in mental health, the behavioral sciences, and, most recently, the invisible influence that technology companies have on consumer and political behavior.

Robert is the author of 15 books and has written more than 300 scientific and popular articles. He is the founder of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies. He became well known early in his career for his work on creativity. Since then, he has conducted research on a diverse range of topics such as adolescent-and-adult competency, arranged marriages, sexual orientation, self-control and voter manipulation. He also has also developed a number of unique online competency tests which are annually taken by more than a million people.

Show notes:

[00:03:38] Dawn begins the interview asking Robert about growing up in Connecticut.

[00:04:57] Dawn asks if Robert skipped a grade in school, given that he graduated from high school at 16.

[00:06:16] Robert talks about his interest in computers in the 60’s, and how his high school was one of the first in the country to even have a computer.

[00:07:27] Ken asks about what lead Robert to attend Trinity.

[00:08:23] Dawn inquires as to whether Robert knew he was going to major in psychology when he first showed up at Trinity, or if he simply ended up gravitating toward the field.

[00:10:14] Robert talks about collecting and analyzing the first ever campus-wide sex survey conducted at Trinity.

[00:11:40] Robert explains what he did in the two years between obtaining his bachelor’s degree in 1976 and pursing graduate school.

[00:13:07] Dawn asks about Robert’s experience at the University of Maryland Baltimore.

[00:13:48] Robert tells the interesting story of how he ended up at Harvard, in part, thanks to the behaviorist B.F. Skinner.

[00:15:40] Ken asks how Robert managed to be one of the few people who never had to write a dissertation while at Harvard to obtain his doctorate.

[00:20:29] Dawn mentions how, at the time, Robert was becoming well known for his work with Skinner.  She points out that many behaviorists at the time were working with chimpanzees and asks why Robert and Skinner were working with pigeons instead.

[00:23:49] Dawn mentions that after his work with pigeons, Robert began to study creativity. He explains why he concluded that creativity is an orderly and predictable process that can be learned, rather than something one is simply born with.

[00:27:34] Robert talks about how he founded the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies after his time at Harvard, and how he took on the role of executive director despite Skinner’s warning to never go into administrative work.

[00:29:56] Ken asks about Robert’s time at the Cambridge Center and if all the papers he wrote during that time had a theme, or if they were just in general social-science communication.

[00:31:28] Robert discusses his book “Cognition, Creativity and Behavior” which is a book of selected essays that he published in 1996. He discusses the various topics in the collection, ranging from creativity to parenting to artificial intelligence.

[00:33:09] Ken asks why, after ten years at the Cambridge Center, Robert moved to the west coast.

[00:35:40] Dawn asks about Robert’s research into arranged marriages and his finding that couples in arranged marriages developed a greater affection for each other than those who married for love. She asks him about his view that people can deliberately learn to love each other.

[00:40:02] Robert discusses his time at the University of California San Diego where he gave students extra credit for participating in “affection building exercises.” He also explains what these were like and what he learned from them.

[00:42:37] Ken asks about Robert’s work on psychological maturity, and his criticism of the “artificial extension of childhood” that is prevalent today.

[00:47:43] Dawn asks about a study on sexual orientation that Robert published in 2007 that supported Freud’s position that bisexuality is the human norm.

[00:50:53] Dawn mentions a book that Robert coedited called Parsing the Turing Test, which refers to Alan Turing’s philosophical test for machine intelligence in which a human judge engages in a three-way conversation between a machine and a person, and if the judge is unable to differentiate the two, then the machine is deemed intelligent.

[00:55:53] Ken mentions that he, Clark Glymour and Pat Hayes provided a running commentary on Turing’s paper for Robert’s book, Parsing the Turing Test.

Editor’s Note:  Ken deems the Turing Test a silly goal for AI.  See his paper published in Scientific American (with Pat Hayes) on this topic.

[00:57:15] Dawn mentions that in 2012, Robert co-founded with a former student The American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology. It’s goal is promote and conduct research that has the potential to improve people’s wellbeing. She goes on to mention that he is the senior research psychologist at the institute, and asks about a current study he is working on that is the largest sexual orientation study ever conducted.

[00:58:43] Ken brings up the issue of online manipulation, which has become a hot topic since the 2016 election. He goes on to mention Robert’s 2015 paper on what is known as the search engine manipulation effect, or SEME. This paper showed, in a series of controlled experiments, that biased search results could easily shift the opinions of undecided voters by maybe 20% or more, and even by 80% in certain demographics. Given that most elections are won by small margins this was a potentially very significant finding, and Ken inquires more into this research.

[01:03:08] Dawn mentions that Google was recently fined 1.5 billion euros, which equates to approximately $1.7 billion, by the EU. This was the third time Google was fined by the union for anti-trust violations regarding online advertising. While the EU’s regulatory approach has been criticized as unfairly targeting tech companies, this view is beginning to change. She asks if Robert sees Europe’s approach as a potential global model for tempering the influence of Silicon Valley.

[01:06:33] Ken talks about Silicon Valley’s relationship to Washington.

[01:08:26] Ken asks about Robert’s development of online monitoring systems for search engines. He goes on to ask about the monitoring system used to monitor what search engine companies showed people while conducting election-related searches in the days leading up to the 2016 and 2018 elections.

[01:13:04] Robert explains why government regulation isn’t likely to be successful in combating the influence of large tech companies, particularly in light of Mark Zuckerberg’s op-ed piece for the Washington Post in which he proposed government regulation of the whole internet.

[01:16:28] Dawn asks about Robert’s opinion on the new documentary The Creepy Linewhich features several interviews with him.

[01:18:21] Ken mentions that in our society we are addicted to convenience and it seems that we are willing to trade privacy for convenience every time.

[01:19:43] Dawn mention’s Robert’s AIBRT website, on which there are a number of resources and tests ranging from “Parenting a Teen” to “Do You Need Therapy?” and “How Infantilized Are You?”

[01:20:49] Ken asks Robert to talk about a 2017 article, in which he provided people 7 simple steps that they could take to guard their online presence.

[01:23:53] Dawn closes the interview asking if Robert has any interests or hobbies outside of his work.

Links:

Dr. Robert Epstein bio

Epstein’s online tests

Learn more about IHMC

STEM-Talk homepage

Ken Ford bio

Dawn Kernagis bio

May 21 2019

1hr 26mins

Play

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James

By 詹姆斯3。noway - Apr 05 2020
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I am only a few episodes in but know I am hooked. I get the impression that Dawn is a skilled ai marionettist, will have to keep listening to know for sure. Great podcast, keep it up.

The Best in Class

By drjohndeluca - Sep 03 2019
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The premier science and medicine podcast. You always come out a little bit smarter after listening.