Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. You are a successful business leader. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory and how you grew up?
I grew up in Newcastle in Northern England. While I was in school, I practiced rowing and took on coaching the sport as well. Once I finished school, I coached rowing as a job before going to university, where I also coached the Great British Junior Rowing. I pursued my passion in understanding human performance, illness and preventative medicine, at Imperial College London where I hold a Bachelor’s in Medicine and Surgery, anda Ph.D. in Biomechanics from the University of Roehampton.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
This is all about attention to detail, and the potential of data. While training as a Sports and Exercise Medicine Physician, I worked for 6 months looking at causes of skin infection in Royal Marine Commandos, here an infection can cause serious illness and sadly on occasion in death. By hand searching records, collating data and analyzing working in a multi-disciplinary team, we were able to identify trends seasonally and with microbiome and approach to reduce illness. The power of machine learning and AI now would have completed that task in hours, and shows how we need to search continually for evolving techniques, even here at Nuritas, the machine learning techniques we used 7 years ago are very different to now, but that early research helped me get to where I am today with Nuritas, overseeing software engineering, data curation, data science, proteomics, lab, and regulatory departments.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There are two professors who have shaped who I am today, professionally and personally. Firstly, Professor Peter Bruckner — he was one of the pioneers of Sport and Exercise Medicine from Australia and his business collaborator and professor from UBC in Canada, Karim Khan. They led the way in sports medicine and they gave me some very good advice, which was to define yourself within a subject matter expert area and know that research is vital — this led to my passion in medical research and helping disrupt current treatment approaches and challenge dogma for patients.
Until that point, I had seen medical research and clinical expertise as two very different concepts. The two of them shaped my career because, unlike many clinicians, a PhD became important for me in addition to medical training, but also helped me in publishing work to answer questions in a way that was understandable by the patient. This knowledge translation took over as being the most important defining part of my career.
The defining point for me was very much the need for clinical research to actually have benefit to the person at the end of it, rather than being reserved for incremental change. And that’s very much what I have brought to Nuritas. In the past, Nuritas’ research was very much focused on advancing science for science’s sake. Now we also focus on the integration of wearable technology and a broader range of patients accepted for our studies, which better reflects real-life medical problems and solutions, including our breakthrough with Nuritas PeptiStrong, which helps muscle via MTOR and Phospho-S6 pathways to increase muscle synthesis and reduces muscle breakdown.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
- “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Sir Winston Churchill
Being able to push hard and accept failure is the most important lesson I have learnt. It is part of learning and hugely valuable, if you haven’t failed, you are not pushing hard enough. I have failed personally and professionally many times, but each time I have learned from it and increasingly giving back is of importance to me, helping others follow my relatively unusual path.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
The first one without a doubt is emotional intelligence. I think it’s hugely underrated and it’s something that medicine gives you an enormous opportunity to develop with patients first hand, but it’s very patchily seen. It’s important to be able to understand the perspective of the patient, customer or client, explain in a way which means something to them, either analogy or similarity and empathize.
Secondly, it would be that you need to be determined with your goals, as we know that a journey is not linear. There are multiple ways to get to an endpoint and it’s easy to get distracted in the short term, especially in medicine when a lot is going on, but you have to keep the end goal in vision. This strategic planning is commercially equally vital, not to get lost in immediacy, looking at we look like in 5 and 10 years time.
Lastly, a successful business leader needs innate drive and single mindedness. People can often use it in the wrong way, which is why I think it needs to be combined with emotional intelligence. It’s crucial to have that ability to adapt your approach with new findings and challenges, especially in medicine when focusing on an end result — be ambitious with your goals and you’ll be surprised with what you’ll discover.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about the technology or medical devices that you are helping to create that can make a positive impact on our wellness. To begin, which particular problems are you aiming to solve?
One of the underpinning features of Nuritas is recognizing that there are huge areas of unmet need in health and illness prevention, and that treating illness is almost always too late, the consequences rather than prevention or promotion of health. A frightening statistic is even after a heart attack, nearly 50% of patients don’t take the medicine they are prescribed 6 weeks later. Our goal at Nuritas is to take every area of health and wellness and find solutions that can be incorporated within food to solve the health burden more at prevention and risk reduction level and naturally. We discover, unlock, and clinically demonstrate the efficacy of peptides, cell signaling proteins which have direct health benefits, all from their source within plants. We empower consumers to live healthier lives, naturally, by making the products they consume every day safer, healthier, and greener.
How do you think your technology can address this?
One of the challenges in creating an ingredient with health benefits is there’s a 0.001% chance of success. So, the advantage that Nuritas has had over the last six years is we’ve built an artificial intelligence platform called The Magnifier, a six-step process powered by NPIFI, which increases the opportunity for success. We’ve been 63% successful at the discovery of new ingredients including, PeptiStrong, PeptiYouth, PeptiNourish, PeptiSleep and PeptiTone, because that AI platform has a proprietary training dataset which we’ve created ourselves.
We hear about artificial intelligence, large language models, and chat GPT, but a model in any sense is only as good as the data that you train it on. So, what we’ve done over the last six years is create a data set of peptides — over six million of them to be exact, from plant sources that are proprietary to ourselves. We’ve matched that with over 200 million biological experiments to confirm the value of that peptide within various health-specific functions.
What that allows us to do is look at that data library and add it to other specific scenarios. So, when we look at a new area. For example, when we look at gut health, we look at target receptors and we need to look in our peptide library for peptides that will survive the gut, survive the acidity, cell penetration, have a sufficient half-life, but also be stable so that we can utilize them in various products. We also want them to survive heat, ultra-high-temperature processing (UHT) and all the other treatments. AI is allowing us to reduce the time of discovering these findings and de-risk that process.
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?
It’s really the 30 years of seeing patients that inspired me, where I had the ability to improve people’s lives through every consultation and working with them to personally find a solution to their health needs or meet their health goals. To be able to explain the terminology and have patients better understand their health really motivated me, but with that, you’re limited with treating one patient at a time.
That’s what inspired me to join Nuritas, where there’s a genuine opportunity to potentially treat millions of people via peptides with life-changing interventions through our AI science-backed research. With PeptiStrong for example, it’s an ingredient that’s on the market in the supplement space but also in medical nutrition and food that supports muscle longevity. Through that concept, we’ve submitted an NIH grant application to look at malnourishment in children. We can already see where these ingredients are beneficial for the average person in their daily lives, whether it be after a workout or post-recovery. But now it’s been huge for us to take that and move into an area of malnourishment where we can have a significant environmental, social, and governance impact by being able to reduce the amount of bulky ingredients in the food, we have fewer freight, environmental and carbon costs. It’s that ability to innovate by looking at the seven areas of health and find multiple ingredients that can really transform health that has made me passionate about what I do at Nuritas.
How do you think this might change the world?
Nuritas has the opportunity to influence every space within health. Specifically, with what we do at Nuritas, peptides within food are not going to treat disease because there’s always an area where medical intervention is needed. But what we can do is have significant impacts in preventing disease, improving health and managing disease progression. We think about the negative impact that the world has in terms of food-related obesity, disease, structures, and malnutrition. It’s those areas where we at Nuritas can really make significant changes in health, and therefore the world in every territory.
For example, we created PeptiStrong to help increase muscle synthesis via MTOR and Phospho-6, reduce muscle breakdown via Atregin and MURF-1, increase ATP release at the mitochondria and increase recovery, helping to instruct the natural pathways in our bodies to help us function best.
One of the benefits of using a data set that comes from plants is that many of those have been used in the food industry for many years. We fit under a category GRAS, that’s generally recognized as safe because there are hundreds of years of data behind these plant sources. What we’re doing at Nuritas is unlocking the benefit within those plant sources through our technology and innovation, which we would otherwise not be able to access. Our platform at Nuritas is a decision maker, but it’s a decision maker about where we choose to biologically validate or where we choose to invest further work. Rather than a box of magic that is spitting out ingredients without human clinical trials before they reach the market, we in many cases hold three or four more clinical trials on top of that to ensure the efficacy of our ingredients.
Based on your experience and success, can you please share “Five things you need to know to successfully create technology that can make a positive social impact”?
The first one is the question of “who is the customer and the end user that is going to use the product?” At Nuritas, we’re very much cradle to grave. The whole spectrum of society should be able to benefit from ingredients because they go from a mineral supplement space through medicine and into food, and then into beverage and personal care.
The second thing is “what is the need or the unmet need that needs an answer?” So often, those unmet needs are really small which is tough for businesses when the market is so tiny. With PeptiStrong, it’s a market which is over $150 billion of addressable needs. It’s not just about the gym or recovery from day-to-day activities, it goes through active aging and the maintenance of muscle mass.
Then it’s about effect size. What effect do we think we’re going to make on changing that consumer impact? I think that’s where the clinical trials of peptide networks come in. So often, ingredients are launched to market off the back of non-specific trials, and that might be a mineral supplement that has had over 100 clinical trials but not in the formulation that that company is offering. It may also be a personalized medical product that is using ingredients from elsewhere and then juxtapositioning clinical trial data to say that the sum of its parts is more important than the individual ingredient. That might work in some instances, but you can’t do that with research. So if you’re launching something into the market, you need to be able to define the effectiveness of that to be able to demonstrate the percentage change.
I think in terms of creating technology, it is very much safety and efficacy. You need to show there’s a benefit to what you’re creating, but we’ve shown that it’s safe. We’re producing food products that stand absolute scrutiny. Except with claims from clinical trials, the safety and efficacy of the product in the market are proven.
Our aim at Nuritas is to create a portfolio of ingredients across all sectors, not just focusing on one area of intervention. I think the ability to influence childhood to later stages of life including aged care, but also different societies and ethnicities is also important to Nuritas. If we talk about PeptiControl, one of our ingredients that is currently undergoing a clinical trial where we’re looking to influence glucose metabolism. We see many people at the highest socioeconomic scale using glucose monitors and apps to monitor what happens to their blood sugar after they make certain dietary choices. The challenge of that is that it’s expensive and it’s only available to certain parts of the population. Here at Nuritas, we want to use that technology to influence our clinical trials so that we can demonstrate using that technology, and the consumer can have the same benefit without needing this expensive tech.
Can you share a few best practices that you recommend to safeguard your technology or medical devices from hackers?
Nuritas has spent significant time and professional expertise in building a data set that has commercial value, and we need that commercial value protected. We would expect to be targeted to try to obtain that as any corporate organization would be. So having a robust policy in place in terms of protecting that data, but also de-identification and multiple de-identification steps, to make the reallocation of that data unusable is a basic step I think that most companies have in terms of protecting that data source.
Where companies become at risk is when they do something once and then don’t go back and look at it again, and don’t realize the emerging threats that it creates. At Nuritas, we have a very robust policy in terms of how our peptide vault is managed and accessed which is our company DNA. We have great patent protection, with over 100 patents around the world on our technology. We have the data protection element, the production protection, but also the important patent protection.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
Something I think is important for young people to consider is to find something that interests them and fuels their passion. There is no rush, too often our education system forces early decisions, often with a very small view of the world. There are huge opportunities out there, in areas you may never have heard of. Reach out to people, social media allows this in a way that didn’t exist when I was growing up, ask questions, and you will find most people are very open to share experiences, advice and how their career developed and learn about opportunities and careers you didn’t know about. It’s an open offer and I am sure all on the Nuritas executive and science and commercial teams would be very open to helping.
A great example of me pursuing my passion is while I have loved helping patients personally, I felt a great interest in impacting the greater population, which led me to pursue this at Nuritas.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them.
I would enjoy having a meal with Arnold Schwarzenegger. I think he’s a man who’s clearly driven and has overachieved everything he set out to do. He’s a real-world example of success, and in his biography he is open about failures and setbacks and his changes which hasn’t come from privilege or one focus area. He’s transcended into multiple careers and I think that’s a very admirable trait with a significant give back to society.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success in your important work.