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Meet Dave Berry of HealthSnap in Westwood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dave Berry.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Dave. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
It’s been quite a ride so far…

As a kid, I was obsessed with music. My dad would play me everything from Stevie Ray Vaughn to Frank Zappa to Classical and Jazz music. I started playing the viola and guitar in 6th grade. In high school, I studied at the Governor’s School for the Arts in Norfolk, Virginia (an amazing school, and amazing experience). I learned so much there…Classical and Jazz Guitar, Music Theory, and much more. All of the teachers at that school were incredible, and in particular, my guitar teacher, Sam Dorsey. He was a life-changing teacher and a truly phenomenal person. He was responsible for my opportunities to perform in masterclasses for world-renowned classical guitarists like Manuel Barrueco and Ana Vidovic. I even had the opportunity to perform solo guitar in Europe. I mention all of this because I strongly believe it helped shape my work ethic and who I am today as a person. I believe it also helped me significantly with science…

I started becoming curious about science early in high school. It all started after reading physics books by the author Paul Davies (for example, “The Mind of God”). After devouring several of his books, I became obsessed with science.

In college, I studied Chemistry and Math at James Madison University (Harrisonburg, VA). After graduating, I took a small break and toured around with my band for a bit and then eventually went to work in the science industry making sensor technologies for the military and first-responders. I was still in Virginia at this time.

I’d always wanted to live in California. In August of 2014, that opportunity presented itself, and I took it. I got a job as a scientist at a contracting company (where I still work) developing sensors for NASA space systems and novel medical devices under NIH grants, as well as doing many more really cool technology product development projects.

To give you some background on my foray into health and fitness… it started back in 2013 after listening to a podcast with Art De Vany about the Paleo Diet (EconTalk episode). That podcast changed my perspective on everything and changed my life. It was the first time that I really understood that food could be medicine, a powerful tool that could help people achieve optimal health while helping to prevent disease. From that moment on, I was determined to study nutrition and fitness and its impact on health, and leverage these tools to help other people. This was part one of my transition into the health field.

Part two of my transition was when I met Chloe Temtchine, an award-winning singer-songwriter and entertainer, and also my current partner. We met in LA in late 2015. She was looking for a guitarist (we met on Craigslist of all places!).

Chloe has the rare-disease Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH). Ever since meeting her, I’ve become obsessed with finding a cure for PAH. I delved into the literature, learning everything I could. (To me, there are so many similarities between PAH, cancer and autoimmune conditions.) I’m now trying to raise funds to develop a targeted-imaging device to help diagnose PAH early and aid doctors in risk stratification and prognosis assessment for PAH patients. I’m also on a mission to raise funds to develop novel PAH therapeutics.

In addition to those efforts, my goal is to make an impact on PAH, and health in general, through nutrition and fitness. In 2017, my brother and I launched “HealthSnap,” a health and fitness company. We produce content and products around our foundational principles (https://www.healthsnap.tv/manifesto/):

1) There is no one-size-fits-all approach to health (i.e., personalized approaches are the key)

2) Looking to evolutionary biology for clues and insights into healthy eating, healthy living, and for clues on how to develop modern therapies

3) Tackling health challenges requires creativity

4) Variation is key (e.g., food quantities and meal timing)

Has it been a smooth road?
To be honest, it definitely hasn’t been a smooth road. It’s been tough building a health business in a market that is so saturated. To make matters worse, there are so many unsubstantiated claims being made in the nutrition field, made by companies, individuals, and even nutritionists and doctors. Even “scientific” nutrition studies aren’t very scientific and are full of confounding factors. The media doesn’t quite help. It is quick to jump to conclusions that “X food is bad for you” based on a poor study in the literature or on a study that was done in animals (which may mean that the results of the paper don’t translate and apply to humans).

Regarding PAH, it’s been tricky raising funds for research. PAH is a rare disease, and most investors and research grants give priority to research targeting cancer. It’s also tricky to develop novel therapies for PAH. As a rare disease with a limited number of patients, it’s very hard to hold clinical trials to test new ideas; clinical trials are required for FDA approval of therapies. Even if you’re able to get drugs into clinical trials, the FDA approval process can take a very long time. From discovery to development to testing and approval, it can take an average of 12 years and a ton of money (over $300 million dollars).

Please tell us about HealthSnap.
At HealthSnap, our mission is to help others lead better, healthier, and longer lives through the use of science, community, healthy foods and practices, and innovative tools and strategies. Our foundations are rooted in science, personalization (personalized nutrition), evolutionary principles (paleo/ketogenic diets, and organic, ethically-sourced, clean foods), and on a belief that everyone should have the ability to live as long, as happily, and as healthy as possible.

We manufacture and curate a wide range of health, fitness, and personal care products including sustainably sourced, non-GMO supplements and foods, test strips and monitors, fitness gear, apparel, and much more. Through our extensive selection of blogs/articles, videos, and support groups, we aim to provide actionable, science-backed health & fitness advice to improve healthspan and lifespan in the modern era.

At the core, we’re people who love to improve our health and push ourselves to do more.

What sets us apart is our penchant for approaching nutrition and fitness from a scientific perspective, as well as our relentless research (and practical applications of research), and that we view each human as a completely different entity (i.e., one-size-fits-all approaches and diets don’t work for everyone).

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
I love Los Angeles, and believe it is a great city to start a business. There is so much culture and drive here. The only downside (and unfortunately, it’s one that does matter) is that the tax situation in California is not quite business-friendly.

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