Q&A: Dr. Gil Blander, InsideTracker (Wellness Tracker)

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Hello Biohackers!!! Today we are very blessed to have an interview with Dr. Gil Blander (LinkedIn: https://linkedin.com/in/gilblander), Chief Scientific Officer of InsideTracker. Gil will tell us about how InsideTracker can help take your health to the next level by analyzing biomarkers from your blood, DNA, fitness tracking plus your lifestyle and habits, and then guiding you to your goals with actionable, science-backed recommendations based on your body’s data. Through this interview, we will gain a clear understanding of Gil’s story, how it works and how it can help improve our lives, perform at our very best by optimizing our bodies from the inside out. I know you guys are very excited to learn more, so let’s begin the Q and A.

An awesome review of InsideTracker by InnerBody.com can be found at https://innerbody.com/insidetracker-review

How it works: https://insidetracker.com/#how-work

Web:  https://insidetracker.com/
FB:  https://facebook.com/InsideTracker/
TW:  https://twitter.com/insidetracker
IG:  https://instagram.com/InsideTracker/
YT:  https://youtube.com/user/InsideTracker2
LI:  https://linkedin.com/company/insidetracker/

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Q: Hi Gil, Thank you so much for joining us today. Our community is very excited to learn more about what you are working on. Can you first tell us about yourself, your background or story, and why InsideTracker is important and/or exciting to you? Can you share some of the company’s mission and vision with us?

A: Thanks Kyle and thanks for letting me share our story.  My life’s passion is aging research. I experienced the death of a loved one when I was twelve.  Her passing left a permanent mark on me.  I had never really contemplated death before.  I thought everybody just lived forever.  I was asking myself Why couldn’t life go on forever?  Why did it have to end?” This moment left a permanent mark on me and led to my lifelong passion and pursuit of the answer to how to live as long as possible and beyond.  

In my academic journey, I came across some research and learned that caloric restriction allows people to live longer and better, and I thought to myself, “What if we can not only restrict calories but choose the right foods for the right person to help them live a longer and healthier life?”

I earned my Ph.D. in biology from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and completed my postdoctoral fellowship at MIT, where I studied aging for five years in the lab of biologist Dr. Leonard Guarante.  While working in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the innovation of biotechnology companies inspired me. I soon realized that to make a real change in the population’s health, I needed to start a company.

Our bodies are the most complex machines out there. If we don’t take care of the machine and it breaks down, we have to go to the physician. But what if we can prevent the machine from breaking down in the first place? Just like we get an oil change for our car every 5,000 miles, we need to perform routine maintenance on our bodies. Just like regular oil changes increase the average mileage of our cars, regular body maintenance can increase our lifespan. 

My goal with InsideTracker is to give people the ability to “check the oil” in order to enhance their performance.  

Our mission is to help people add years to their lives and life to their years by optimizing their bodies from the inside out.

Q: InsideTracker was born in 2009. During your journey what was the most challenging aspect of creating a product that analyzes your blood, DNA, and lifestyle habits? How did you deal with all the challenges? 

A: The most challenging aspect was the integration between blood, DNA, fitness trackers and lifestyle data as it’s not trivial and very complex to combine those multifactorial inputs and derive personalized recommendations based on it.  

Q:  I’ve read the blog about David Sinclair, who sits as the Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board at InsideTracker. Can you speak to some of his involvement with the company?

A: Kyle, Is right try to see the Anti Aging, Biohacking & Longevity Knowledge group is all quite familiar with David’s work and groundbreaking research on aging and epigenetics.

I’m proud to call David a friend, a colleague and part of the group InsideTracker family because he is one of the most brilliant people I know.  Early in InsideTracker’s journey, I worked closely with my mentor, MIT biologist Dr. Lenny Guarente and David to help me bring to life and refine my design of an algorithm based, science backed, truly personalized performance and nutrition system. David and Lenny were also involved in the development of our InnerAge application and are co-inventors of our InnerAge patent application.

Q: How does the InsideTracker personalize the action plan, from the food to eat to get and what kind of workouts we should do? Is the action plan already programmed or do you have a team who is doing analysis and research behind the scenes and constantly optimizing the plans?

A: When people test with InsideTracker, they select the goal for their Action Plan. We have a lot of strength and endurance athletes, for example, who prioritize what they need for their sport. We also have a lot of executives, entrepreneurs, and biohackers who use our plans to keep their cognition sharp and improve their healthspan so they can do what they love as long as possible. 

Based on a person’s goals, we look at the biomarkers that are shown to have the greatest impact on that goal and then rank them against “optimal” zones — not just “normal” zones. Your general practitioner might say, “Your testosterone is in the normal range.” We say, yes — but is it optimized? Could it be improved? And then we look at research on how to optimize that marker and present it as an easy-to-follow list of daily activities that are prioritized for the ones that will have the greatest impact. Too often, people take to Google or their friend networks and get a laundry list of subjective “do’s,” that quickly becomes overwhelming. InsideTracker lets you know which will have the greatest, fastest impact.

Our science and research team is constantly looking over the latest research to make sure our Action Plan algorithms are using up-to-date research. But we have a high bar for what passes scientific muster and makes it into our plans in the first place. A great example is the gut microbiome. We’ve been hearing so much about it for a while now, but InsideTracker only introduced gut health as a goal in our Action Plans about a year ago. It took that long for a confluence of research to actually tell us what lifestyle interventions would have the greatest impact. A lot of what we heard in the early days were assumptions, but not scientifically valid. 

Not only are the Action Plans specific to a person’s goals and created based on their specific biomarkers and DNA (if they opt to include DNA), but we’ve also introduced fitness tracking integration (Garmin last month and FitBit last year) which creates an even greater level of personalization, as we’re able to offer daily pro tips based on a person’s activity, workouts, sleep, and biometrics (like resting heart rate). With these three inputs — DNA, blood and daily activity — we feel like we’ve got the trifecta of information to provide custom, timely, science-backed plans. 

Q: Why is it so important that each individual gets a personalized analysis and action plan?

A: The simplest answer is that we are all individuals, we are all unique.  And so should your approach. 

And that uniqueness is expressed on the inside by the combination of your biomarkers.  

For example, a person could have a different set of unoptimized blood biomarkers or certain genetic predisposition for health & wellness traits that are high risk or physiomarker data captured by your fitness tracker that is out of range.  Then compound that with your specific personal goals, habits and lifestyle.  You’ve got an exponential amount of factors. 

All of these collected data points are essential inputs that go into our system and cross-referenced against 8,500 unique recommendations.  

Our algorithm then goes to work to translate the infinite potential combinations into a science backed action plan of 5-10 personalized recommendations to help you achieve optimal wellness.

Q: When you purchase the right plan for your goal how long will you be enrolled in the service? And how many times can you do the test within the period of service?

A: Once you purchase a plan, you can continue accessing your plan on the web or app for life. We recommend that people retest every 3 to 6 months so they can see the progress they’ve made. Not only is this a huge motivating factor, but once people have “solved” a non-optimized marker through the suggested lifestyle interventions, they can move down the list to prioritize next-in-line markers and get even better. 

Q: Can you comment a bit on your competition in the market? Who do you think is the toughest (and perhaps, most inspiring) competitor and why? How do you differentiate yourselves?

A: In my opinion, what’s really remarkable is not one particular company, but the megatrends, growth and proliferation of competitors in this space in the past ten years.  It’s a true testament to our culture’s personal interest and commitment to exercising their self-agency.  Their ability to take control over their destiny and their path to their personal best.  Their trust in the science, their ability to constantly calibrate their bodies.  The thirst for not just knowledge, but real actions and interventions they can easily work into their daily lives.

A big differentiator for InsideTracker is that we don’t just allow you to order up your own tests and show you a rich set of data, graphs, and analytics.  

Yes, we do that, but the real secret sauce is our science backed guidance.  Again, it’s the actions.  We tell you what to do with the findings and why.

There are lots of companies offering self-serve tests, but… what then? You’ve told me the what, but I want to know “now what?”.  And also, if they do give a plan of sorts, is that plan really for me? Is it optimized for my specific goals?  And how do I know I can trust it?  Is it scientifically and research-validated, or is it relatively generic and intended to just get you to that broad “normal” range we talked about earlier?

Q: How do you see the biohacking and anti-aging/longevity industries developing (and your role in it)?

I read a great quote somewhere that “the quest to live forever, or to live great expanses of time, has always been part of the human spirit.”  I think that’s true and even more true now.  But, even though we’ve seen some amazing scientific discoveries and groundbreaking technologies, I think we are just scratching the surface.  All the signs are there. 

I’ve seen market analyses projecting that the biohacking market will reach over $60B by 2028 and the amount of capital being invested in Age-Tech has already surpassed $27B!  It’s a truly profound part of not just the tech, science, academic and business world, but the broader cultural conversation. 

One of the big shifts that we at InsideTracker are trying to help reinforce and support is the focus away from defining success in terms of just longevity to one of healthspan.  It’s our job and our mission at InsideTracker to not only add years to our life but life to our years.

I think the other role we can play is to democratize the data.  And what I mean by that is that we have all this amazing data inside our bodies and we are creating more and more ways to collect it.  Blood, DNA, fitness tracking, the microbiome, constant glucose monitoring, etc.  And as we add more and more of these data collection methodologies to our platform, InsideTracker can integrate it all together to not only give you the clearest picture of what’s going on inside your body in real-time, but also the orchestration and interaction between these factors.  So your strategies for what to do to further optimize yourself are sharper, more precise and more specific to you than anything else. 

We make it easy to collect this data, present it in a clear and understandable way and put all the power in a simple app, right in your pocket. 

Q:  Aside from current product offerings, is the team working on developing new additional products? What does the product roadmap look like?

A: As mentioned, InsideTracker integrated with first Fitbit and now Garmin wearable devices to give you daily Pro Tips based on activity, sleep, and biometrics. We have other device integrations, including Apple Watch and Apple Health Kit, coming soon. We’ll also be launching our full-feature Android version of the app in the early fall.  We’re always looking for ways to make our plans easy to access and as “sticky” as possible, knowing compliance and consistency is such a key part of habit entrainment and success. 

Q: Finally, Is there anything you would like to tell us that we didn’t cover? 

A: Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to share my story and the InsideTracker story with your group.  I’m constantly energized by people like you and your community who are brave, insatiably curious and constantly exploring their body’s chemistry and physiology through science and self-experimentation.  I’d welcome everyone in this group to please come check out InsideTracker to really understand if all the hacks you are doing are truly working. 

Also, a little shameless self promotion, but we are launching a new podcast at the end of July that is called “Longevity by Design”, and you can find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and most of the major podcasts aggregators.  It’s me and some of my amazing friends and colleagues, like David Sinclair and David Katz, having spirited conversations about the innovations and science at the frontiers of longevity research. I think this group would love it. 

Thank you so much for your time, Gil Blander. We are honored to be able to speak with you regarding your company and wish you the absolute best. For readers who are interested, please visit their website below.

Web:  https://insidetracker.com/
FB:  https://facebook.com/InsideTracker/
TW:  https://twitter.com/insidetracker
IG:  https://instagram.com/InsideTracker/
YT:  https://youtube.com/user/InsideTracker2
LI:  https://linkedin.com/company/insidetracker/

USE THIS LINK Click here for 25% off

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