David A. Sinclair

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David Andrew Sinclair
Born (1969-06-26) 26 June 1969 (age 53)
NationalityAustralian American
Alma materUniversity of New South Wales (BS, PhD)
Known forLifespan: Why We Age and Why We Dont Have To
Spouse(s)Sandra Luikenhuis (married 1999; separated 2020; divorced 2022)
  • Time 50 Most Influential People in Health Care
  • Irving S. Wright Award of Distinction
  • Time 100
  • Australian Society for Medical Research Medal
  • Garvan International Fellow
  • Thompson Prize
  • Officer of the Order of Australia (AO)
  • Pioneer Award, National Institutes of Health
Scientific career
FieldsMolecular genetics
InstitutionsPaul F. Glenn Center for Biology of Aging Research at Harvard Medical School[1]
Doctoral advisorIan Dawes
Other academic advisorsLeonard Guarente
InfluencedRozalyn Anderson

David Andrew Sinclair AO (born June 26, 1969)[2] is an Australian biologist who is a professor of genetics and co-director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for Biology of Aging Research at Harvard Medical School.[3] He is known for his research on aging with a focus on epigenetics. He is an officer of the Order of Australia (AO).

Sinclair has appeared in Time magazine, The New York Times, The Charlie Rose Show, 60 Minutes, Boston magazine, The Washington Post, The Economist, TED and The Joe Rogan Experience.

Early life and education[edit]

David Andrew Sinclair was born in Australia in 1969, and he grew up in St Ives, New South Wales. His paternal grandmother had emigrated to Australia following the suppression of the Hungarian Uprising of 1956, and his father changed the family name from Szigeti to Sinclair.[2] Sinclair obtained a Bachelor of Science at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, and received the Australian Commonwealth Prize. In 1995, he received a Ph.D. in molecular genetics from the same school,[1] focusing on gene regulation in yeast.[2]


In 1993, he met Leonard P. Guarente, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who studied genes involved in the regulation of aging, when Guarente was on a lecture tour in Australia, and the meeting spurred Sinclair to apply for a post-doc position in Guarente's lab.[2] Earlier that year Cynthia Kenyon's lab at UCSF had discovered that a single-gene mutation in (Daf-2) could double the lifespan of C. elegans.[2]

In 1999, Sinclair was hired at Harvard Medical School.[2] In 2003, his lab was small and struggling for funding.[2] In 2004, Sinclair met with the philanthropist Paul F. Glenn who donated $5 million to Harvard to establish the Paul F. Glenn Laboratories for the Biological Mechanisms of Aging at Harvard, of which Sinclair became the founding director. He currently serves as the co-director with Bruce Yankner.[2]

In 2004, Sinclair, along with serial entrepreneur Andrew Perlman, Christoph Westphal, Richard Aldrich, Richard Pops, and Paul Schimmel, founded Sirtris Pharmaceuticals.[4][5] Sirtris was focused on developing Sinclair's research into activators of sirtuins, work that began in the Guarente lab.[4] The company was specifically focused on resveratrol formulations and derivatives as activators of the SIRT1 enzyme; Sinclair became known for making statements about resveratrol like: "(It's) as close to a miraculous molecule as you can find. ... One hundred years from now, people may be taking these molecules on a daily basis to prevent heart disease, stroke, and cancer."[4] Most of the anti-aging field was more cautious, especially with regard to what else resveratrol might do in the body and its lack of bioavailability.[4][6] The company's initial product was called SRT501, and was a formulation of resveratrol.[7] Sirtris went public in 2007 and was subsequently purchased and made a subsidiary of GlaxoSmithKline in 2008 for $720 million. Five years later, GSK shuttered the Sirtris program without successful drug development[8][9]

In 2006, Genocea Biosciences was founded based on work of Harvard scientist Darren E. Higgins around antigens that stimulate T cells and the use of these antigens to create vaccines;[10] Sinclair was a co-founder.[11] Genocea laid off most of its workforce in 2022 after presenting disappointing data at AACR[12]

In 2008, Sinclair was promoted to tenured professor at Harvard Medical School.[13] A few years later, he also became a conjoint professor at the School of Medical Sciences at the University of New South Wales.[13]

In 2008, Sinclair joined the scientific advisory board of Shaklee and helped them devise and introduce a product containing resveratrol called "Vivix"; after the Wall Street Journal requested an interview about his work with the company and its marketing, he disputed the use of his name and words to promote the supplement, and resigned.[14]

In 2011, Sinclair was a co-founder of OvaScience with Michelle Dipp (who had been involved with Sirtris), Aldrich, Westphal, and Jonathan Tilly, based on scientific work done by Tilly concerning mammalian oogonial stem cells and work on mitochondria by Sinclair.[15][16] Tilly's work was controversial, with some groups unable to replicate it.[17][18] The company ultimately came under pressure for skirting US regulatory authorities for fertility testing. [19]

In 2011, Sinclair was also a co-founder of CohBar, along with Nir Barzilai and other colleagues. CohBar aimed to discover and develop novel peptides derived from mitochondria.[20] Cohbar describes itself as a clinical stage biotechnology company but has no drug candidates in clinical testing.

In 2015, Sinclair described to The Scientist his efforts to get funding for his lab, how his lab grew to around 20 people, shrank back down to about 5, and then grew again as he brought in funding from philanthropic organizations and companies, including companies that he helped to start.[20] In 2015, his lab had 22 people and was supported by one R01 grant and was 75% funded by non-federal funds.[20] However, as of 2016, this was no longer true as his federal funding began to increase.[21]

In September 2019, Sinclair published Lifespan: Why We Age – and Why We Don't Have To, a New York Times bestseller, co-written with journalist Matthew LaPlante and translated into 18 languages.[22] This was also released as an audiobook on Audible and read by Sinclair.[23]


While Sinclair was in Guarente's lab, he discovered that sirtuin 1 (called sir2 in yeast) slows aging in yeast by reducing the accumulation of extrachromosomal rDNA circles. Others working in the lab at the time identified NAD as an essential cofactor for sirtuin function.[2] In 2002, after he had left for Harvard, he clashed with Guarente at a scientific meeting at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, challenging Guarante's description of how sir2 might be involved in aging; this set off a scientific rivalry.[4]

In 2003, when his lab was still small, Sinclair learned that scientists at a Pennsylvania biotech company called Biomol Research Laboratories discovered that polyphenols including resveratrol could activate sir2, and he collaborated with them to confirm this.[2] This led to publications authored in part by Sinclair in both Nature and Science in 2003.[4] Sinclair's outspoken advocacy for resveratrol as an anti-aging compound started a scientific controversy over whether this was true, and whether resveratrol even activated sirtuins.[2][4][24] High-profile papers claiming age reversal of mice have also come under intense scrutiny.[25] Work in another lab, done partially with funding from Sirtris, found increases in the number of mitochondria in the cells of mice given high doses of resveratrol.[2] Sinclair's lab continued to work on resveratrol and analogues of it, as well as on mitochondria and NAD, all directed to understanding aging and how to prevent it.[24]

Awards and honors[edit]

Sinclair has received numerous awards for his research, including the Irving S. Wright Award of Distinction from the American Federation for Aging Research in 2018, the Advance Award in Life Sciences from the Australian government in 2017, and the Australian Society for Medical Research Medal in 2014.[26][27][28][3]

In 2014, Sinclair was included in Time 100 as one of the hundred most influential people in the world, and in 2018 he was included in Time magazine's 50 Most Influential People in Health Care.[29][30][31][32] In 2018, Sinclair was made an officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for "distinguished service to medical research into the biology of ageing and lifespan extension, as a geneticist and academic, to biosecurity initiatives, and as an advocate for the study of science" (2018 Australia Day Honours).[33]



  • Sinclair, David (2019). Lifespan: Why We Age – and Why We Don't Have To. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1501191978. A New York Times bestseller (2019).


  1. ^ a b "David Sinclair". The Sinclair Lab, Harvard Medical School, Department of Genetics. Archived from the original on 17 August 2017. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Duncan, David Ewing (August 15, 2007). "The Enthusiast". MIT Technology Review. Archived from the original on April 30, 2020. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
  3. ^ a b "David Sinclair". Harvard Medical School. Archived from the original on 1 August 2020. Retrieved 20 August 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Couzin, J (27 February 2004). "Scientific community. Aging research's family feud". Science. 303 (5662): 1276–9. doi:10.1126/science.303.5662.1276. PMID 14988530. S2CID 161459205. Archived from the original on 17 August 2017. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  5. ^ "Sirtris S-1 Registration for IPO". Sirtris via SEC Edgar. March 1, 2007. Archived from the original on February 13, 2017. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
  6. ^ Wade, Nicholas (17 August 2009). "Tests Begin on Drugs That May Slow Aging". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 17 August 2017. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  7. ^ McBride, Ryan (12 August 2010). "Former Sirtris Execs' Nonprofit Starts Selling Resveratrol with Potential Anti-Aging Effects Online". Xconomy. Archived from the original on 27 March 2019. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  8. ^ Carroll, John; McBride, Ryan (Mar 12, 2013). "Updated: GSK moves to shutter Sirtris' Cambridge office, integrate R&D". FierceBiotech. Archived from the original on April 28, 2019. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
  9. ^ "GSK absorbs controversial 'longevity' company: News blog". Nature Blog. Archived from the original on 2013-12-17. Retrieved 2017-08-17..
  10. ^ Richtel, Matt (16 May 2007). "Warding Off Diseases, Many Vaccines at a Time". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 17 August 2017. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  11. ^ McBride, Ryan (May 1, 2008). "Polaris' Bitterman is humble about his early VC success". Boston Business Journal. Archived from the original on August 17, 2017. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
  12. ^ https://endpts.com/five-years-into-neoantigen-work-cash-strapped-genocea-lays-off-staff-as-it-looks-for-strategic-alternatives/. Retrieved August 14, 2022. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help).
  13. ^ a b "Professor David Sinclair | School of Medical Sciences". medicalsciences.med.unsw.edu.au. Archived from the original on 2017-12-01. Retrieved 2017-11-26.
  14. ^ Goldstein, Jacob (26 December 2008). "Harvard Researcher Tied to Shaklee 'Anti-Aging Tonic' Vivix". WSJ. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 27 November 2017.
  15. ^ "OvaScience S-1". OvaScience via SEC Edgar. August 29, 2012. Archived from the original on May 14, 2017. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
  16. ^ Weintraub, Karen (December 9, 2016). "Can fertility startup OvaScience really help women conceive late in life, as promised?". MIT Technology Review. Archived from the original on February 14, 2017. Retrieved August 17, 2017.
  17. ^ Grieve, Kelsey M.; McLaughlin, Marie; Dunlop, Cheryl E.; Telfer, Evelyn E.; Anderson, Richard A. (2015). "The controversial existence and functional potential of oogonial stem cells". Maturitas. 82 (3): 278–281. doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2015.07.017. PMID 26278874.
  18. ^ Powell, K (15 June 2006). "Born or made? Debate on mouse eggs reignites". Nature. 441 (7095): 795. doi:10.1038/441795a. PMID 16778853. S2CID 3111297.
  19. ^ https://www.technologyreview.com/2016/12/29/106805/turmoil-at-troubled-fertility-company-ovascience/. {{cite news}}: Cite has empty unknown parameter: |1= (help); Missing or empty |title= (help).
  20. ^ a b c Grant, Bob (May 1, 2015). "Follow the Funding". The Scientist. Archived from the original on April 11, 2018. Retrieved January 8, 2022.
  21. ^ "Grantome". Archived from the original on January 28, 2021. Retrieved January 22, 2021.
  22. ^ Finkel, Toren (2019-09-10). "The enlightenment of age". Nature. 573 (7773): 193–194. doi:10.1038/d41586-019-02667-5.
  23. ^ Sinclair, David A (10 September 2019). Lifespan: Why We Age - and Why We Don't Have To. Audible. Archived from the original on 22 February 2020. Retrieved 22 February 2020.
  24. ^ a b Wallace, Benjamin. "An MIT Scientist Claims That This Pill Is the Fountain of Youth". New York. Archived from the original on 2017-08-14. Retrieved 2017-08-17.
  25. ^ Gomes, Ana P.; Price, Nathan L.; Ling, Alvin J. Y.; Moslehi, Javid J.; Montgomery, Magdalene K.; Rajman, Luis; White, James P.; Teodoro, João S.; Wrann, Christiane D.; Hubbard, Basil P.; Mercken, Evi M. (2013-12-19). "PUBPEER Dissection of Anomalies with Figures in Declining NAD(+) induces a pseudohypoxic state disrupting nuclear-mitochondrial communication during aging". PubPeer. Archived from the original on 2021-03-02. Retrieved 2020-11-24.
  26. ^ "The Irving S. Wright Award of Distinction". AFAR American Federation for Aging Research. 2021. Archived from the original on 9 July 2021. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  27. ^ "Award Winners". Advance. Archived from the original on October 9, 2021. Retrieved October 9, 2021.
  28. ^ "Medalists". ASMR Australian Society for Medical Research. 2017. Archived from the original on 11 July 2021. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  29. ^ "David Sinclair Time 100". University of New South Wales. 28 April 2014. Archived from the original on 28 September 2020. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  30. ^ "David Sinclair Time 50 Health". Business Wire. 22 October 2018. Archived from the original on 13 October 2019. Retrieved 21 August 2020.
  31. ^ "The 100 Most Influential People in the World". Time. Archived from the original on 14 July 2011. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  32. ^ "The Health Care 50". Time. Archived from the original on 3 August 2021. Retrieved 6 July 2021.
  33. ^ Sinclair, Andrew David (26 January 2018). "Australia Day 2018 Honours List". Archived from the original on 26 January 2018. Retrieved 3 February 2018.