Hi Chris, could you please introduce yourself and share some highlights of your personal and professional journey?
I was born and raised in Long Island, NY. When I was 12, I realized my interest in two distinct hobbies: exercise and web development. I got my first startup job when I was 15, and it was immediately clear to me I wanted to work in the industry. When I was 16, my life was put on pause when I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Fortunately, it was removed, but the whole experience was transformative; it shaped my values and who I am today, it also planted a seed for what is my current venture, NOVOS.
I applied to one college – NYU Stern – because of my desire to learn business and entrepreneurship and to be close to my family in NY. My first job out of university was in Private Equity, but I was simultaneously working on a startup venture by the name of Hotlist, which won Stern’s business plan competition.
Can you recount the life-changing experience from your youth that led you to become deeply interested in health?
I was already interested in health from the superficial perspective of athletics and aesthetics. When I was diagnosed with a tumor as a teenager, my interest in health rapidly evolved into one that focused on biology and disease – and my newfound desire to never be forced to lay in a hospital bed ever again contemplating my mortality.
I wanted to learn why, despite being healthier than my peers according to a range of measures, I would be diagnosed with a tumor. I wanted to better understand the causes of cancer, disease and the converse, biological optimization.
It has been a long journey, almost 25 years at this point, and over that time I’ve learned a lot about my own health by digging into my biomarkers and experimenting with nutrition, supplements, lifestyle hacks and more. I continue to investigate the myriads of factors that contribute to disease (and how to minimize the odds thereof), and am consistently researching the biological causes of aging, which is the primary risk factor for most chronic illnesses, how to counteract them and more. My knowledge, and the science, are ever evolving, but I’m happy to be where I currently find myself, as a practitioner and contributor to the discussion about aging, disease and health optimization.
I first met you at Fabrice Grinda's house in New York more than ten years ago when you were running a Foursquare competitor called Hotlist. Could you share the story of that venture and the lessons you learned from it?
I started Hotlist while finishing up at NYU Stern and shortly after graduation, and I quit my job at the time to pursue it full-time. Unfortunately, the collapse of Lehman Brothers coincided with Hotlist’s fundraising efforts, which quickly introduced me to the difficulties of entrepreneurship firsthand.
Hotlist eventually raised a smaller round and, after time (years!), found product-market fit. We scaled our user base up considerably and, at our peak, had more than 220 million people’s social plans on our platform. We received numerous accolades which include ringing the opening bell at NASDAQ, being a Top 5 Finalist for Entrepreneur of The Year at CES’ Mashable Awards, receiving a Webby Award, and more.
About six years into the venture, we began connecting with prospective acquirers, including big names like Facebook and Google. Ultimately, a large company in Asia made an acquisition offer. Having no revenue (we focused on user growth) and burnt through much of our capital, we had to make a choice: pursue the acquisition or fundraise. The Board, my cofounder and I unanimously elected to pursue the acquisition.
Four months into the drawn out process, our acquisition offer had fallen through. This paired with other unforeseen circumstances led to us shutting down Hotlist.
The lessons derived from this experience were innumerable. From business to life and beyond, I was forced to confront my failures, my values, my ego (which was obliterated!) and more. Yet, along with my brain tumor, I consider this to be one of the two greatest experiences of my life, because of how much it forced me to grow.
You maintain a disciplined lifestyle, balancing sleep, sports, and work. What motivates you to uphold this discipline, and how do you manage it every day?
Life is short and can end at any moment. There is so much I want to provide to the world and experience while here. My previous experience of illness and failed entrepreneurship have inspired me to continue putting my best effort forth to minimize the odds that I’m ever laying in a hospital bed with a life threatening illness again, or that I don’t achieve my goals because of lack of effort.
When I’m confronted with temptations like staying up late (not for work), skipping my workout or ending work early, I reflect upon my values, and what I want for my future self, and have conditioned myself to reflexively realize that I put those at risk by giving in. Now, that’s not to say I never stay up late, eat dessert, skip a workout or end my week a little early, but I do so by first carefully listening to what my mind or body is telling me and considering how far astray the decision will lead me.
Tell us about NOVOS (novoslabs.com), the longevity company you founded. What inspired you to start it, and what are you building there?
My inspiration started at age 12, when I picked up an issue of Men’s Health magazine. This moment evolved into an interest in biological health after my brain tumor, resulting in almost 20 years of me actively integrating healthy lifestyle practices and experiments into my life, which sprouted into NOVOS when I became aware of the research into longevity and the 9 hallmarks of aging (there are now 12).
NOVOS is a human longevity platform that makes the latest advancements and discoveries in human longevity accessible and achievable for all. Put simply, we use science to keep you Younger For Longer.
We do so by being the first company to address aging by addressing the 12 hallmarks of aging simultaneously, whether that be through our patent-pending, natural formulations, our best-in-class biological age tests that keep you on track, or our free knowledge and assessments that we provide as a Public Benefit Corporation.
As we evolve, we will continually transfer knowledge from the scientific lab and medical clinic directly to the consumer, in the form of scientifically validated over-the-counter formulas, tests and free knowledge. We do so because in today’s world, it is more important than ever to be proactive about health, and it’s our perspective that addressing the biological causes of aging is the best way to confer the most health benefits to people in both the short and importantly, the often neglected long-term.
With a vast landscape of supplements available, including competition and products on Amazon, how do you view the current landscape and its future expansion? What should people consider before making a purchase?
When I started NOVOS, I thought of the marketplace as composed of two general categories: pharma/biotech and supplements, and each has its place and respective benefits. For example, pharma and biotech utilize the most advanced scientific approaches to validate their drugs, in terms of efficacy (for a disease indication) and safety.
Supplements, on the other hand, have the advantage of being able to be quick to market and no need to prove themselves to the FDA or EFSA for a particular disease indication; they have to be natural and Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS).
My vision for NOVOS is to combine the best aspects of both industries while minimizing the downsides. For example, be obsessive about the science behind our products, while targeting aging and utilizing synergistic ingredients.
To these points, NOVOS Core, our foundational formulation, is based on more than 400 scientific studies. Additionally, independent, third-party in vitro human cell studies of our synergistic formulas have found a reduction in DNA damage from irradiation and chemotherapeutics, and a reduction in the footprint of senescent cells at a magnitude comparable to the prescription longevity drug, rapamycin. A human in vivo case study also found that 73% of participants had a reduction in their biological pace of aging and 0% had an acceleration.
At this time, I’m unaware of any other patent-pending longevity formulations with this degree of research or any other products on the market comparable to our formulation.
Additionally, we offer the world’s most accurate epigenetic biological age test kit (produced by Columbia University and Duke University researchers), NOVOS Age, and more than 125 scientifically referenced articles we publish on NovosLabs.com.
Novos Labs offers a variety of products beyond the well-known NMN. Could you discuss the key ingredients in your formula and explain why you included or excluded certain popular components?
We currently have 13 ingredients across our two formulas. For a high-level overview of our ingredients, readers can check out our Ingredients page, which includes links to in-depth articles on each ingredient.
We also have a blog post that discusses “longevity” ingredients that we intentionally did not include in our formulation and the reasoning behind this decision.
Finally, on our Approach page, we discuss the criteria we consider when evaluating ingredients for inclusion in our formulations, alongside our esteemed Scientific Advisory Board of notable longevity researchers and consultants like Dr. George Church, Dr. Matt Kaerberlein, Dr. J. Pedro Magalhaes, and others.
Here are the qualifications we use when considering an ingredient for inclusion in a formula:
They have the ability to impact at least one, and ideally multiple, mechanisms of aging simultaneously
They have been able to extend lifespan in various animal models, hinting at conserved evolutionary pathways
They are associated with reduced risk of different aging-related processes and outcomes in humans and animals, indicating that they act on the underlying aging process
They are associated with reduced risk of mortality in humans
They are nature-based and found in food or human biology, but levels decline with age
They have a very low side effect profile
They have been used for decades or even centuries to treat specific symptoms or afflictions in humans without serious side effects
They are considered safe by the FDA, EFSA, and other organizations
You engage in epigenetic testing and track your biological age. How does this work, and do you envision a future where people can monitor their aging process while using your supplements and maintaining a healthy lifestyle?
That day is already here! A large number of NOVOS customers are purchasing Core, Boost and Age, and monitoring their progress on their Longevity Journey. As we scale, we will continue to build out that experience.
NOVOS Age consists of three tests: Biological Pace of Aging, Biological Age and Telomere Length. The biological pace of aging, which utilizes the world’s most accurate epigenetic test known as DunedinPACE, is what we encourage customers to focus on almost exclusively. While biological age is a fun metric, it’s not nearly as accurate as your pace or rate of aging. When it comes to telomeres, they’re best to look at to ensure they don’t get too short; as long as they aren’t, research indicates that your morbidity and mortality risks should not be impacted.
Epigenetic tests work by looking at one’s genetic methylation. Typically, when a gene is methylated, it’s turned off. So, essentially, your genes are like a piano and your epigenome is like the player of those keys. As we age, patterns emerge that can be correlated to disease, physiological phenotypes and mortality. These associations can then be built out into advanced algorithms that essentially correlate with your morbidity and mortality risk (for every 7 to 8 years we’re alive post-puberty, our risk of death doubles).
The goal is to get your pace of aging to be below one (one equates to aging one biological year per chronological year; it’s the average). For example, I’ve achieved a biological pace of aging of 0.69, which I share on my personal blog SlowMyAge.com.
Readers can learn more about biological age testing in a webinar I hosted called Longevity Tests.
What are the critical factors for living a long and healthy life?
The factors to consider are nutrition (quantity, quality, macro and micro nutrients), meal timing (earlier is better with more time fasted), physical activity (exercise; not too little nor too much), sleep (quality x quantity), supplementation (general health and longevity), relationships (hint: three positive, close friendships is the magic number), stress management (meditation, prayer, journaling, etc.), etc.
How significant is the impact of taking supplements for someone who already practices yoga, sports, and clean eating compared to someone who is overweight and not in good shape?
Supplements are critical for both types of people. I’ll break it down into two categories: general health and longevity.
General health supplements are essential nutrients, like vitamins (A, B’s, C, D, E, K, choline, etc.) and minerals (potassium, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, iodine, etc.). It’s nearly impossible to get all of the required nutrients through diet alone, for several reasons. First, we’re living longer lives and as we age, we don’t absorb nutrients as well. So, we need higher doses. Plus, governments’ RDAs are based on short-term studies to avoid acute illnesses (e.g., scurvy), but not for the sake of optimizing long-term health. Many studies have investigated long-term health outcomes with various vitamins and minerals and found much higher dosages are necessary.
You may think you can get these doses from eating a healthy diet, but that’s challenging, if not nearly impossible. Most food is processed nowadays, and even fruits, vegetables and animal products don’t contain the same levels of nutrients that they had throughout evolution because the soil doesn’t contain adequate minerals. Additionally, it’s all too easy to be deficient in one, two, or more nutrients, which over time can lead to very negative health consequences. So, we recommend that everyone supplement with a high-quality multivitamin and multi-mineral, and take in adequate potassium levels through diet and “Lite” salts.
Longevity supplements, like those contained in NOVOS Core and Boost, are not possible to get an adequate dosage of from diet, yet evidence indicates they are very helpful for slowing down the pace of aging, based on ongoing research.
What are your plans for Novos Labs? How do you envision the company in 10 years, and what types of products might it offer?
The science of human longevity is a rapidly evolving field so tremendous progress will be made in a decade’s time. Over that time span, NOVOS will not only continue to make the latest innovations and validated research accessible to consumers but will also be making contributions to the field in the form of our own in-house R&D, as well as through donations to non-profits and academic labs in the space. We see ourselves as the trusted resource for consumers to count on for longevity.
Longevity and life extension are often met with skepticism. What do you think are the most common misconceptions about longevity research, and how does NOVOS address these concerns?
Many people believe that longevity is a pipe dream, that it’s about living forever, it’s only for the rich, or it’s not scientifically possible. We disagree with all of these assertions.
First, let’s define longevity to be on the same page. At NOVOS, we consider “longevity” to be an increase in health span (period without disease) and lifespan. If you consider historical innovations like modern sewage systems and antibiotics, they already proved longevity is possible by doubling the average lifespan over just over 100 years. So, why would it be unfathomable to continue doing the same, but via different approaches, such as addressing the underlying causes of aging?
Some define longevity as the maximum species lifespan, which currently tops out at 122 years and 164 days, by a French lady, Jeanne Calment. Even with this definition, we (and longevity researchers) see no reason why we wouldn’t be able to exceed this threshold by addressing hallmarks of aging like epigenetic dysregulation, cellular senescence and inflammaging.
The question then shifts to whether NOVOS as a company can help people achieve improved longevity, and for this we think the answer is definitively “yes.” Whether it be through the scientifically validated guidance we share, which highlights lifestyle approaches that scientists show lead to better longevity or the scientific evidence that’s accumulating for NOVOS’ supplements through scientific studies and case studies, we’re confident that anyone who joins the NOVOS community – even if just for the free, accessible knowledge – will be able to improve their pace of aging and longevity.
Can you share any success stories or data from customers who have seen significant improvements in their health and well-being after using Novos Core or following your longevity recommendations?
Earlier, I referenced a case study we performed in 2022 for six months. The participants ranged from ages 39 to 76, half male and half female. Participants were instructed to submit a blood sample for epigenetic testing before ever using NOVOS Core or Boost. They then began taking one sachet of Core and two pills of Boost (250 mg NMN dosage) daily. Participants were also asked not to make any significant changes to their lifestyles unless medically necessary and to notify the NOVOS R&D team if any significant changes occurred.
Principal Component DunedinPACE clock outputs were compared for each subject’s start and end samples. The group had a statistically significant reduction in biological pace of aging, with 73% of the subjects reducing their pace of aging well beyond the test’s error margin. The average percentage change was minus 6.1% and one participant’s result was minus 14%. Zero participants had an increase in their pace of aging.
Note that the p-value for the results, at 0.001, far exceeds the minimum benchmark of statistical significance of 0.05. In other words, the results are 50 times less likely to be by random chance than what scientists ordinarily require to consider something as “statistically significant” (i,e., it is not coincidental). We believe that if participants were to combine NOVOS’ supplements with our lifestyle guidance, the results would have been even more pronounced.
Extending beyond this case study, multiple anecdotal customer accounts reflect similar outcomes. For example, a verified customer shared this with us: “I tested my biological age with an epigenetic test before starting NOVOS Core. I was 1.8 years younger than my chronological age. I started daily NOVOS Core packets, and six months later, I repeated the test. I was 8.4 years younger than my chrono age! I am excited about the results!” (Amy B., MSN, APRN, FNP-C.).
And as mentioned, I’ve achieved notable biological age results, which the Founder of the most respected epigenetic testing lab said was the best set of results they had ever seen, even more so than popular longevity “influencers” hitting the PR circuit (see SlowMyAge.com); I believe NOVOS was integral to this outcome.