30 Sept 2022
An Australian American!
If you already know that ageing can be combated, chances are high that you’ve somehow learned this through a man named David Sinclair. He is a Professor in the Department of Genetics at the Harvard Medical School in the US. In basketball terms, you could call Sinclair the Michael Jordan of longevity science. Through his efforts and his charismatic personality he has captured the world’s attention for ageing.
David Sinclair was born on 26 June 1969 in Sydney, Australia. Chronologically, that makes him 53 years old at the time of writing. The term biological age is used in the longevity space to refer to your age according to your cellular health. By this standard, he considers his age to be in his mid-30s.
Sinclair’s road to becoming a professor
In the early 90s, David Sinclair was studying gene control in yeast at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. In 1993 David Sinclair attended a lecture in Australia from Leonard Guarente, a professor from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who studied genes involved in the regulation of ageing. This sparked Sinclair’s interest in the longevity space and he applied for a postdoc position in Guarente’s lab in the US, where he started to further study ageing in yeast.
At this point, most people believed ageing was a complicated process that could not be influenced. but Sinclair was determined to change that mindset. Three years later, Sinclair made a groundbreaking discovery that explained why yeast was ageing. But if you know why something’s happening, you might also be able to do something about it! This discovery propelled his career and in 1999 he was hired as a professor to run his own ageing lab at Harvard Medical School.
In 2003, Sinclair published a paper that showed evidence that a compound that is present in red wine, resveratrol, extended the life of yeast by 70%. A few years later in 2006, he replicated similar results in mice. In the meantime (in 2004) he had also co-founded a company called Sirtris Pharmaceuticals that was going to commercialise the discoveries around resveratrol for humans. Sirtris went public in 2007 and GSK bought the company in 2008 for a whooping US$720m. When Sirtris went public, Sinclair owned a little less than 1% of the shares, but the GSK takeover has probably still gained him around US$5m in cash. David Sinclair continues to promote resveratrol as of this date.
NMN, his next big thing
Another anti-ageing compound that people associate with David Sinclair is NMN, or Nicotinamide Mononucleotide. Building on research from his former colleagues at MIT, Sinclair started doing experiments with NMN in yeast and mice. Sinclair and colleagues found that when aged mice drank NMN-infused water, their running endurance almost doubled. The mice that were on NMN also seemed to appear much younger with darker hair.
His fame started to rise in the early 2000s with his discoveries around resveratrol. As red wine also contains resveratrol, it made longevity seem attainable to anyone. Sinclair became the topic of many news articles about longevity and he is also a regular guest on famous podcasts, such as The Joe Rogan Experience and the Led Fridman Podcast.
In 2019, he published his bestseller book called “Lifespan: why we age and why we don’t have to”.
What does David Sinclair do to combat ageing?
In terms of lifestyle he follows intermittent fasting diets, doesn’t drink much alcohol, doesn’t eat much red meat. He exercises around 4 times per week and uses various health tracking methods, such as blood biomarker analyses and biological age tests.
The list people are interested in the most is the list of supplements David Sinclair takes.
Well from his book (Lifespan - Why we age & Why we don't have to) we can confirm he takes:
Nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN): 1g per day, in the morning
Resveratrol: 1g per day, in the morning with some yoghurt or olive oil
Spermidine: 1 mg per day, in the morning
Quercetin and Fisetin: 500 mg each per day, in the morning with some yoghurt
David Sinclair believes that resveratrol and NMN are the perfect combination. Resveratrol is needed to activate certain genes (the so-called sirtuins) that protect our DNA and epigenome, while NMN is needed to fuel these genes.