Speaker: Mark Hyman

Reimagining Our Biology, Health, and the Process of Aging

**Please note the special day for this event — the call falls on Monday, instead of our usual Saturday time.

“The key to creating health,” says Dr. Mark Hyman, “is figuring out the cause of the problem and then providing the right conditions for the body and soul to thrive. It isn’t taking another medication.”

Whether he’s in a gray suit or hospital scrubs, Mark Hyman, MD, is often carrying in his pockets a pack of walnuts, coconut butter, turkey jerky, or some other nutrient-dense snack. A family physician, author, and public figure, Hyman has been transforming the landscape of Western medicine for the past 30 years. His latest book, Young Forever: The Secrets to Living Your Longest, Healthiest Life, aims to provide a prescription for healthy longevity, challenging the public to go beyond the status quo of the average lifespan riddled with “diseases of aging.” At 63, Hyman says he feels better than he did when he was half his age; by scientific methods, his biological age measures 20 years younger. He believes everyone has the same potential to thrive, and he is on a mission to make that an equal opportunity for all.

For as long as he can remember, Hyman's life has been about mind-body wellness and personal growth. Born in New York, Hyman moved with his family to Spain, where his mother shopped in local markets and grew a backyard garden. In high school, he became a vegetarian for 10 years. At Cornell University, he studied nutrition and Buddhism. And before he pursued a calling in medicine, he spent time teaching yoga and wandering the mountains of Tibet and Nepal in search of meaning.

As a young doctor, Hyman became disheartened by practicing medicine with conventional methods. “The way we were treating disease wasn’t working,” he says. “We can’t just cover up symptoms with medications. We have to understand the body as a biological system — an ecosystem.” This led him to research root causes of chronic disease — a paradigm called “functional medicine,” which focuses on each person’s unique genetic, biochemical, and lifestyle factors, as well as the social determinants of health. Teaching underserved and privileged communities alike to cook nutritious, delicious food – and likening foods such as Oreos and Coke to addictive drugs – has long topped his priority list.

Hyman’s professional journey has also been shaped by his personal challenges. When he was a young doctor, he developed chronic fatigue syndrome and intense “brain fog,” ultimately leading him to functional medicine and a path to heal himself. In 2012, his younger sister died from biliary cancer and his marriage ended. In this raw state, he returned to the East for another pilgrimage, this time accompanied by his daughter, to the sacred mountain of Jomolhari in Bhutan and a Tibetan orphanage at Menri Monastery in the Himalayas. Then in 2017, he himself came very close to death with a severe illness, now understanding by direct experience, rather than only conceptually in his mind, some of life’s essential lessons — like surrender. 

Among Hyman’s many and varied roles is serving as the founder and director of The UltraWellness Center, Senior Advisor to the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, and board president of the Institute for Functional Medicine. He is the author of 14 New York Times best-selling books, the host of a popular podcast, The Doctor’s Farmacy, and a regular medical contributor for several television shows and networks, including CBS This Morning, Today, Good Morning America, The View, and CNN. Equally dedicated to the health of our food systems and the planet as a whole, Hyman founded a nonprofit organization, the Food Fix Campaign, to “transform the dysfunctional policies” that shape our food and agricultural systems. “What we do to our bodies, we do to the planet. What we do to the planet, we do to our bodies.” 

Is there an inner compass that directs his outer work? A journal entry from Hyman’s pilgrimage to Bhutan and Tibet might give us a glimpse:

I do not pretend to understand how this life works, my place in it, or how to arrive to a place that is settled, authentic, powerful, and clear, but I am trying….Being here, visiting the sacred places, in this sacred country where these Buddhist principles are their constitution, their declaration of interdependence and interconnection of all things, I am quieted and happy, but less certain than ever of how things should be – only open to how things might be if I relax, let go, be present, show up, pay attention, and listen for what is true in everything.

Please join Pavi Mehta and Cynthia Li in conversation with this visionary doctor, changemaker, and student of life.

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