Taking Healthcare Research Home with Dr. Axel Schumacher, Co-Founder and CEO of the HLTH Network

Even without a global pandemic, healthcare is one of the biggest issues facing the world today. We often hear about “doctors and scientists,” but rarely have the opportunity to speak with them personally and learn about their lives. Instead of a headline or a statistic, Dr. Axel Schumacher is an individual who has regular days like anyone else and works hard to help move the world forward.

Dr. Schumacher is a geneticist, author, & futurologist with over 30 years of experience in the field of genetics, personalized medicine, and aging & longevity. Axel has a documented track record as a visionary scientist, inventor, and business manager in academic, clinical, and pharmaceutical environments across Europe and North America. 

He wrote the “Blockchain & Healthcare Strategy Guide,” was the manager of the Red Cross “Blood Donor Biobank,” and is particularly well known for his work in epigenetics. Axel’s mission is to translate scientific discoveries into practical digital applications to help understand and prevent complex disorders in order to transform the way we age. Axel is also a member of the Blockchain Research Institute in Toronto, the world’s leading Blockchain Think Tank. He holds a Ph.D. in Human Genetics from the University of Cologne/Germany.

Dr. Axel Schumacher, Co-Founder and CEO of the HLTH Network
  1. How did you get involved with healthcare, and do you have a personal connection with the industry?

As a biologist, health was always in my mind. For many years I took the more abstract approach and frantically studied the molecular foundations of good health. As a researcher at the university, I stayed in the lab till late at night to make experiments to figure out how we develop complex diseases such as dementia, cancer, schizophrenia, or depression. Having friends and family members that struggled with health issues, at some point I realized that it is time to translate my findings and experience into actual real-world solutions. If we want to feel good, we have to do good and share our knowledge. It is not enough to collect tons of research data, we need to make data more actionable, more findable and share it with the world for the greater good. 

  1. So you were able to see some of these complex diseases play out first hand. Do you feel that your personal experiences are the main drivers for your success, or is it more of a duty to your family or society? 

Our own health journey is just a natural instinct; we aim at preserving our health, pursuing things that promote our own well-being, and avoiding things harmful to it. However, learning from our own path, we naturally develop a social relationship toward others and we identify ourselves not only with our own immediate family but with all members of the human race. They are all fellow members of our broader community. Recognizing the needs of others gives us the opportunity to respond with virtue and to develop forms of altruism. Improving the wellbeing of others ultimately leads to a number of better life outcomes, such as better health status, more satisfactory social relationships, higher productivity, and increased educational achievements, not only for the individual but for our whole species. That’s why we have to look closely at the social determinants of health as many people don’t have the same opportunities to be as healthy as others.

  1. It seems you are always striving to better yourself as a person. And what about the opposite side of that coin? When times are tough, do you turn to your family for support, or do you look inwards? 

In times of crisis, it is important to be a leader and not rely on others, to cultivate a more favorable state of mind, and to act as an anchor preventing the storms of chaos washing us along with the turmoil of the moment. But it requires courage. The courage to face misfortune, to hold onto your principles even when others disregard theirs. In our fast-paced world, the cultivation of things like peace of mind, mental clarity, rational thinking, and objectivity helps us live more deliberate and resilient lives. Courage to speak your mind and insist on truth, fighting a battle against yourself, within yourself, to improve and help others. Of course, having the energy to act courageously, we need a healthy body and mind. And there the circle closes.

  1. Of course, our personal health always comes first. Do you have personal care routines that you stick to regularly?

Yes. People would probably describe me as a Biohacker, and it is my goal to help others to hack their health as well. I use a habit tracker to make sure that I do not forget my care routines. For example, I have a special morning routine. Getting up quickly at 7:35 am, which, according to my genome composition, is the best time for me to wake up, drinking a glass of lemon water with added nutrients that are based on my personalized nutrigenomics analysis, and then going for a walk in the forest to find stillness, preparing for the day. It’s the time to step back, a time for inspiration, making room for gratitude and happiness. I follow with drinking a large cup of coffee and a quick 10-min Yoga routine before I hop on the computer to have the first call with my team. My habit tracker currently has 28 daily items in it, ranging from eating an apple, doing 300 pushups, drinking green tea to contacting old friends.

  1. That’s incredible, that you are able to apply your life’s work to your health in that way. This question should be obvious then: has working in healthcare given you access to tips and tricks for good health? Would you care to share some of those?

The key to good health is understanding your own body. We are all different, and as such we all need different things to flourish. People need to learn to do the experiments on their own. I encourage people to apply a systems-thinking approach to their own health. Or in plainer terms: how do you know it works if you don’t try it? Record what is good for you and what is not. Of course, there are several things that will benefit almost everybody. I think the largest health benefit I experienced was from reducing the intake of sugar to almost zero, finding my way back to nature by going outside and spending as much time as possible in the wilderness, eating less food through intermittent fasting, and sleeping more. But most people know these things. The trick is to do it regularly as a normal routine in your life. There are strategies to help you in this goal, like mediation and chasing purpose. When people feel purpose in their lives, they tend to be happier and are less susceptible to fall for quick dopamine rewards through unhealthy habits like smoking or eating a doughnut, which makes adjustments to your lifestyle routine easier so that you can live to your full potential.

  1. Yes, people do know these things, but it is good to be reminded. What was your most rewarding moment working in healthcare data. The moment you knew you were doing the right thing?

To be honest, in an innovation-averse environment like the healthcare vertical, a lot of the time is wasted in frustration. You see all the wonderful things that are possible but the world seems too slow to recognize the benefits and opportunities. However, from time to time we can see the light, usually when we witness how data can transform the life of a person. I had such an experience with a good friend. She had a severe genetic disease running in her family and she was horrified about the idea of getting pregnant and as such avoided long-lasting relationships. I helped her to get her genome sequenced. After we found out that she did not carry the disastrous mutation that plagued her siblings, her life changed dramatically. She is now a happy and proud mother of two healthy kids. 


  • Masha (Maria) Prusakova

    PR for blockchain startups, French Attorney (UC Berkeley LLM), Co-Founder at CryptoPRLab.com and Davos-Apartments.com

    Masha (Maria) Prusakova is a French attorney and a PR specialist, working with blockchain startups and tech conferences. Before moving to San Francisco in 2017 after her LLM at Berkeley, Masha worked as a lawyer in M&A for Clifford Chance LLP and Gowling WLG in France and Monaco. As a relationship manager for UHNWI in 2015-2017, Masha represented UBS and HSBC private banks in Switzerland and Monaco. In 2017-2018, Masha lead business development and sourced seed and series A startups for a venture fund in San Francisco. At the same time, Masha also supported one of the leading PR agencies as a consultant in public relations and communication for blockchain startups.In summer 2018, Masha joined Crypto PR Lab as a co-founder. Since then, Masha has worked with over 25 projects and spoke at numerous tech conferences around the globe. The company works with CasperLabs, Desico, Plasma, Particl, Bitcoin 2019 Conference, Crypto Invest Summit among others. Masha is an accomplished athlete - she loves snowboarding. As a professional snowboarder and a champion of Russia, she represented Russia in the 2006 Winter Olympic Games as the youngest participant in the halfpipe event. Masha holds 3 Master’s degrees (Sorbonne, UC Berkeley, University of Nice) and speaks four languages: Russian, French, German, and English. Get in touch at [email protected]