Pushing for improved clinical outcomes with implementing lifestyle modifications to optimize genetic expressions
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Welcome to the Outcomes Rocket podcast where we inspire collaborative thinking, improved outcomes, and business success with today’s most successful and inspiring health care leaders and influencers. And now your host Saul Marquez.
Saul Marquez: And welcome back to the podcast. Saul Marquez here and I had the outstanding Dr. Daniel Stickler. He is a physician focused visionary and a Human Potential Evolutionary thought leader. He’s a Co-founder of the Apeiron Center for Human Potential and the Apeiron Academy. His journey began as a general vascular surgeon specializing in laparoscopic weight loss surgery. Striving for the best possible outcome, he created a highly successful whole system approach in collaborating with a skilled team of dietitians, health psychologists, and exercise physiologist. After 10 years of end nearly 3,000 operations he concluded that the surgical approach was not an ideal option for long term health and knew that lifestyle was the key to creating optimize health. Following 10,000 plus hours of research and several thousand client interactions, he correlates improved clinical outcomes with implementing lifestyle modifications to optimize genetic expressions. I’m excited to dive into this as we explore the field of value-based care and what can we do to make patients better and deliver the best possible outcomes. So it’s a pleasure to have Daniel on the podcast. Daniel welcome.
Dr. Daniel Stickler: My pleasure to be here.
Saul Marquez: So Daniel what is it that I did it well first of all that I miss anything in your intro that you want to share with the listeners?
Dr. Daniel Stickler: Yeah one thing that a lot of people will ask me about is the because epigenetics which is a big area of focus for us has such kind of wide ranging definitions by the individual I mean we have it goes from the world to the biochemical world and where it falls in the clinical realm is important and it is now being just well researched area. I mean there’s over ten thousand peer reviewed studies done on it each year I teach, I’m a guest lecturer at Stanford on using epigenetics in clinical practice and it is an area that I just wanted to mention. My background in so that we get a basis to build off of when we start talking about epigenetics.
Saul Marquez: Now I think that’s a really great thing to highlight and you know when we were doing research on your work Daniel definitely was something that popped up for me. It was definitely not on my radar. It’s more about just modifying gene expression versus altering the code itself. So I think it’s something that is worth highlighting folks. So keep that in mind as we enter the discussion here with Daniel. So what is it that got you into the medical sector to begin with and then why did you make the change from surgery to what you do now?
Dr. Daniel Stickler: The initial drive to go into medicine was to help create outcomes that you know I was an athlete as a child and I was always it was kind of bio hacking before it was a term and that was fascinating to me. And that’s what prompted me to go into medicine that my vision is I went in was kind of that and it turned out to be something completely different which was disease based care and pharmacology which didn’t appeal to me too much. And surgery was a nice option especially weight loss surgery because I could take people from an existing baseline and improve quality of life which is what my ultimate goal was to provide. And so that was the reason that I opted for surgery. That point.
Saul Marquez: Makes a lot of sense and so you you did all these procedures three thousand plus procedures you’re achieving that goal but something happened where you said that this could be different.
Dr. Daniel Stickler: Yeah we had started doing really lifestyle optimization care with clients as a hobby on the side. You know everybody jokes a physician doing wellness as a hobby. But the reality of it I mean that’s it’s not your common clinical practice. And we were seeing amazing outcomes with them and it was really starting to delve into the world that I envisioned is as medicine should be. And so I kept saying well one of these days I’m just going to do this full time one of these days I’ll do it full time. And I realized that I was just going to keep saying that. So one day spontaneously I finished a surgical procedure and I said you know what I’m done. Cancel all the rest my consults, cancel my surgical schedule and I walk away.
Saul Marquez: Wow. What was that moment like? What was the reason that finally you said “I’m done”?
Dr. Daniel Stickler: Because I got tired of just planning it. And I said as long as I keep planning it it’s never gonna happen. And by me announcing it verbally and taking the action it solidified it I mean people thought that I lost my mind. I mean truly i had 300 patient waiting lists for the surgery. And it was a financial hit for sure but it was something I was passionate about, I knew it was going to work. I knew what I was driving at was game changing. And so that took quite a few years but to fruition at this point.
Saul Marquez: That’s awesome. That’s a great story. It’s a jump that now a lot of people take and one that I would encourage the listeners to do it. I kind of felt the same way when I started the podcast almost 2 years ago and you just have to go for it and if you have a clear enough vision you know that it’s going to work out you’ve got to do it. So how long has it been then since you made that choice?
Dr. Daniel Stickler: That was December 31st 2009.
Saul Marquez: Wow. Wow. Almost nine years ago.
Dr. Daniel Stickler: Yeah.
Saul Marquez: Wow that’s amazing man. Congratulations. Thanks. That’s a great story. So here we are. You know now you’re at the head of what’s going on at the Apeiron Center for Human Potential. And the academy. Tell the listeners what the focus there is and what it’s all about.
Dr. Daniel Stickler: It’s kind of the culmination of the vision that my wife and I had. My wife is a she’s a career Air Force.
Saul Marquez: Very cool.
Dr. Daniel Stickler: Officer so she’s she’s actually on duty this week but she’s got twenty eight years and she’s colonel in the Air Force. She is kind of the go to person for human performance in the Air Force stress resiliency human performance and so we’ve both been at the same mindset you know both athletes. We started across one of the first crosses together and you know it was just everything that we were passionate about we kind of brought together into our vision and the vision is you know we’re medicine his has base the human system on an inaccurate premise and that premise is that the human system is complicated and the reality is the human system is complex.
Saul Marquez: Yes.
Dr. Daniel Stickler: And they don’t, you can’t treat a complex system using complicated machinery or data or whatever you’re using algorithms. Those are great for robots for machines those kind of things but the human system being complex and variable it doesn’t work the way that we’ve set medicine up I mean the Greeks knew this from the get go I mean they they understood the complexity of the human system and they never approach things from a true disease model. The body was either in homeostasis or it was not. And there was every factor of the human environment that was taken into account. So it was you know dietetic I was actually defined as what you eat how you slept your relationship with your family your work life. I mean it was all of that which is basically epigenetics and how that impacts the system and provides variable outcomes. So in medicine we’re now at a point where everything is going algorithmic and that can apply to some aspects of disease but not to wellness. It just doesn’t work that way in our premise is that the human system is is limitless we have limitless capacity to change the human system our DNA is fascinating I mean it is is the most dynamic molecule that is it so intelligently designed that it is constantly reacting to everything within the environment and making adjustments in order to thrive in that environment. And we look at this current state of homo sapiens as this endpoint of evolution which is just really ludicrous. And we call it the homo prevactices the next rendition in which is advanced human which is the next phase I think of what we’re coming to. I mean with technological advances with gene editing with all of peptides that are coming out now I mean we have the ability to truly enhance the human system and we’re ignoring it to focus on disease.
Saul Marquez: Now that’s a great call out. So with these things in mind and by the way thanks for for that. And thanks. The big thanks to your wife for her service and the work that you guys are doing as it relates to the health care leaders listening to this you know. What do you think is a hot topic they need to be focused on and…
Dr. Daniel Stickler: I think the hot topic is we need to completely abandon the current system. This isn’t a matter of of shifting the system. It’s a matter of changing it. It’s a matter of saying OK this system doesn’t apply and we need to create a whole new system that doesn’t mean all throughout our knowledge or anything like that. We just take a whole new perspective on the human model. I mean you look at 75% of the common causes of death in the United States. The top ten causes of death that kill 75% of the population eight out of 10 of those are almost 100% lifestyle related.
Saul Marquez: Yeah.
Dr. Daniel Stickler: And the others I mean like accidents you may say well that’s not lifestyle related. Well it is. I mean look at how many accidents occur from sleep deprivation from driving. So it’s no longer about focusing on these stovepipes of treating disease. I mean we have all this focus in the research and the pharmacology on treating cholesterol. But why did the cholesterol get there in the first place in functional medicine started down that road but they still kind of fell into that trap of treating it as a disease and they’re like we’re get to the core of things but we’re going to treat it with these herbal formulas instead of these medications. It doesn’t matter it’s the same philosophy. And so it’s a matter of looking at the human system differently and the way we look at it is we call it precision performance medicine because it’s about the human system and looking at the system as a whole not as into all the individual parts but looking at how it all interacts with each other because that’s the way complex systems work. And you kind of take that model and you create a picture using precision inputs so you get all of the data you can’t you get the bloodwork you get the genetics you get the biometric readings which we have huge access. I mean any physician that’s not working with biometric monitoring on their clients they’re already way behind the curve and they need to jump on that. But this gives precision to the individual not to the group as a whole because complex systems don’t behave like a population behaves they behave as an individual piece. And we’ve been doing this kind of medicine for the last six years and our outcomes are just amazing with it. And the clients appreciated a great deal. They understand that everything is really focused on them as an individual not them as a grouping of population that’s going to drive.
Saul Marquez: No I think it’s very clear and and it’s a different approach. I mean this is definitely hard. I mean you would be the microcosm of it happening. The likelihood of something like this happening system wide I think is very difficult. So taking it in a step wise fashion I think number one folks I’d encourage you to take a look at the work that Daniel and his team have been up to go to appear on center dot com that’s their Web site you could get a little more educated appear on is a P is in Peter E I R O N center dot com and you’ll be able to see what they’re talking about their approach how it works. Definitely something to think through. Now Daniel did you say you were I know we had a chance to connect before our interview and you went to a very fascinating meeting or that’s on your calendar.
Dr. Daniel Stickler: Which one would you be referring to ? Got a bunch
Saul Marquez: Like which of all of the., There is one that was like invite only and you’re gonna be there with a bunch of interesting folks from around the…
Dr. Daniel Stickler: Barcelona event that said LA Cielo foundation.
Saul Marquez: Yes.
Dr. Daniel Stickler: Yeah. That’s going to be interesting that’s…
Saul Marquez: You haven’t done it yet.
Dr. Daniel Stickler: Okay. That with the end of November. Not sure quite what to expect from that.
Saul Marquez: I was intrigued and so because you were in London when you reached out to me last week I figured maybe you were kind of around that area. So you haven’t done it yet. Okay.
Dr. Daniel Stickler: No no.
Saul Marquez: Got it. You have to keep us in the loop on that one.
Dr. Daniel Stickler: All right.
Saul Marquez: But definitely very interesting and folks it’s a meeting over in Europe that Daniel got invited to with some of the brightest minds in technology and health and also some monks too it sounds like great.
Dr. Daniel Stickler: Shaman from all over the world.
Saul Marquez: Shaman from all over the world. Fascinating stuff. Daniel you’re working on some very interesting things. Give us an example of how the Apeiron Center has created results for either an individual or just a population.
Dr. Daniel Stickler: Well I think what I would like to emphasize here is kind of bleeding off what you said about us being a microcosm. And we realized that I mean we realized that trying to turn this huge Titanic oil tanker in when it’s going with the current pretty much full speed is a monumental task. And so what we said was How can we create this movement at a grassroots level. So what we’ve done is we’ve created the appear on Academy where we train coaches and clinicians in our model and we currently have 160 coaches and they range about 30% of Murphy’s positions about 30 percent or chiropractors. And the other 40% are divided among just a diverse group of people I mean we have we have psychologists, dieticians, pharmacists, musicians, health coach his personal trainers all training on the same platform all interacting together and it’s a beautiful community of just diverse backgrounds that helped to contribute to this outcome. I mean they call themselves the tribe and that’s where we see it. I mean we’re getting ready to open our third appear on center in Sarasota and we’ve got four in the pipeline ready to launch but these these centers are the medical centers but they’re supporting the coaches that are out there as well. So we’ve got a truly living organism that is spreading across the world. I mean we’re every day we added a coach from another country into our training and it’s a pretty extensive training. It’s one hundred hours of online training plus some interactive pieces. And I think it’s the only way that we saw that we could make movement in this. And as these nodes continue to grow I think we’re going to start to see a shift investment paradigm.
Saul Marquez: That’s fascinating. And so at the end of this training what could an individual expect to know to be able to do well they learn our systems based approach to health.
Dr. Daniel Stickler: They learn in-depth epigenetics and the true science of epigenetics.
Dr. Daniel Stickler: So what does the science tell us about how the FIDO nutrients and olive oil change expressions of genes. How does exercise affect over 7,000 gene expressions in the body and by seeing that by looking at genetics and then understanding how gene expression change they can implement lifestyle patterns such as dietary patterns that are more related to the ancestral origins of the individual athletic patterns that are going to be more likely to provide ideal outcomes supplementation patterns where you find deficiencies. So all of this can be looked at but there’s nothing absolute in it because it is a complex system. So you’ve got to understand the huge number of variables that go into every outcome. And we have a genetic company and we we run genetic data but we never provide direct to consumer genetics because that’s never the way it should be done. Always has to be provided through somebody who’s trained in understanding genetics and epigenetics as well in order to give a valuable actionable outcome for a client.
Saul Marquez: Fascinating. So you guys are growing. The message is spreading. You’re providing a very clear clear promise at the end of this this training and and obviously the results for people instead of sick parents WellCare makes a big difference. What would you say is a setback that you had while you were building all of this that you learn a lot from probably our initial foray into getting investors.
Dr. Daniel Stickler: I mean we were pretty naive in that realm and we had these people that said oh yeah this sounds great. Well funded and we kind of went through all the hoops and everything that they were requiring and ended up draining every bit of our savings in order to achieve that. And then they kept asking for more. And finally we said you know what. This is not the right time that we stepped away we bootstrapped it for another year and now we’re actually we’ve just got through a friends and family round raised four hundred thousand dollars and you go into a seed round where we’re we’re hoping to raise about 2 million.
Saul Marquez: Awesome. You know what. Glad to hear you guys are figuring out that space it’s definitely a tough one to navigate but the vision you guys have and the work that you’re doing. I’m sure the people willing to support your work will will continue to show up.
Dr. Daniel Stickler: Now we’re excited about it. And you know that’s what we decided we’re not going for the investor this they’re to look at it from a financial gain but more of a passion focus and saying you know I want to be part of this thing that’s gonna change the world and so that’s been a big shift for us is to really focus on the types of investors that we’re approaching that.
Saul Marquez: Love that. Great message there. And what would you say an exciting project that you’re focused on within the the work you’re doing is?
Dr. Daniel Stickler: The biggest project we’re working on is what will bring everything together that is Apeiron. So we have our genetics, we have our training academy, we have our medical centers and we also have a community wide community app that where we’ve got out there. But we’re working on a biometrics platform that will eventually load A.I. intelligence onto the biometrics platform is something we want free for people it will be all voluntary to store your data up there and to be a part of the community where your genetics your lab work and all this nice hip a compliant platform it’ll be tokenization all your your wearable biometrics will be able to feed up and you can select what pieces you want on your dashboard but eventually we’ll be able to start looking at this from collecting truly lifestyle subjective factors which is one thing that most people don’t collect they collect only objective measures they miss subjective measures and we’ve got a nice little secret source of where we’re going to be able to collect subjective data and so once we get enough data on there at that we’ll be able to program the start looking at relationships between genetics subjective data, objective data and and look for relationships that could potentially be game changing in the health industry.
Saul Marquez: Fascinating. Now that’s really great. It’ll be interesting to hear how that works especially with the increasing number of people you guys are getting on the platform. I know that some insights are around the corner. So Daniel getting close to the end of our time here. We’re going to put together a quick syllabus. The ABC is of Dr. Daniel Stickler on what it takes to be successful in well care. So it’s a lightning round with four questions followed by a book that you recommend to the listeners you ready?
Dr. Daniel Stickler: Okay.
Saul Marquez: All right. What’s the best way to improve health care outcomes?
Dr. Daniel Stickler: Get rid of the current paradigm and create a whole new one.
What’s the biggest mistake or pitfall to avoid?
Dr. Daniel Stickler: Having influencers on the outside controlling it from a kind of a market standpoint rather than a truly focused health standpoint.
Saul Marquez: How do you stay relevant despite constant change?
Dr. Daniel Stickler: Constant learning and understanding that what you learned today may be completely wrong tomorrow. And that’s what we train our coaches in and that’s what we constantly update and provide for them.
Saul Marquez: What’s one area of focus that drives everything in your organization?
Dr. Daniel Stickler: The concept that longevity that human potential does not have a true limit and that we are getting closer and closer and we want to be part of that.
Saul Marquez: What book would you recommend to the listeners?
Dr. Daniel Stickler: My favorite by far is Ishmael by Daniel Quinn.
Saul Marquez: Great book folks if you want to get a link to the book that just was just recommended by Daniel as well as a transcript of our discussion today and a link to Apeiron Center’s website, go to outcomesrocket.health/apeiron you’ll find all that there. This has been a pleasure Daniel. I’d love if you could just share a closing thought and the best place for the listeners could get in touch with you.
Dr. Daniel Stickler: Yeah I think the thing to take away is not seeing the limitation in what’s possible with each individual and understanding that truly our core code our genetics has the ability to constantly adapt and thrive in changing environments so a focus on changing your own environment in order to help optimize outcomes is a key key piece.
Saul Marquez: Beautifully said. And if if folks wanted to reach out or follow your work what would you say the best place for them to do it?
Dr. Daniel Stickler: They can email me all the contacts on all of our websites come right to me but they can also e-mail me direct at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saul Marquez: Outstanding. Well Daniel this has been a blast. I really have enjoyed our discussion every time we connect. I feel like my knowledge of what it takes to become better and be more well is elevated. So appreciate you for sharing your words of wisdom today.
Dr. Daniel Stickler: Yeah well of course Apeiron actually means limitless. It’s a Greek word so that’s what you’re experiencing it’s a glimpse into limitlessness.
Saul Marquez: I love it. Thanks so much Daniel.
Dr. Daniel Stickler: Thank you.
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