Another skincare product? What's the catch? How much does it cost?
Those are the type of questions we are used to asking after hearing about a new line of acne treatment. But what about other kinds of questions to examine our skincare routine?
What is the science behind it? How can this product help calm and soothe my skin while boosting my self-esteem?
These are the type of questions Dr. Yug Varma asked during his post-doctoral research at the University of California at San Francisco. I had the opportunity to hear more about his story, his leap of faith, and trusting his gut instincts to create change for others on my podcast, In the Rising.
Interested in trying out the skin care line looking deeper than your complexion, but into your health.
Go to PhylaBiotics.com and use Coupon Code: ITR20.
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3ZzSy1ZuEzGFfsmG8fve8Q/
The expert guest was booked via The Expert Bookers: www.expertbookers.com.
I invite you to listen to In the Rising Podcast- a show dedicated to helping others create change and a life that they really want.
"Living the life I want" was a phrase that I heard often while working with clients going through cancer, and so I created this podcast. I also saw that there is a gap in knowledge about cancer, lymphedema and how to manage recovery, so I created Fit after Breast Cancer.
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In Good Health!
Need to have like a thick skin. And sometimes I would be like, am I doing the right thing? Am I misjudging this? Should I act ?
My name is Betina Brown, and thank you so much for being on In The Rising Podcast. I'm the host of this show, and I love to talk about living your best life, living the life that you're dreaming of and making that a reality. And I am really just blessed, fortunate, and excited to have such wonderful conversations with people making that dream life a reality. And not just for themselves, but for other people. My guest today is Dr. Yuk Vama and is one of those people making a change, but also is willing to share how he took a leap of faith and followed his heart, his mind, and took all the knowledge with him, and is making changes one person at a time. So welcome to Dr. Yuk Vama, and I'm excited for you to listen to our conversation, Dr. Yuk Vama. I'm excited to have you on in the Rising podcast today and, and welcome.
Thank you so much for having me, Bettina .
So I've done my research on you and I, I am really amazed with all the things that you've done and you really seem to be following your passion, and , uh, you also are working on something that lights you up and that you've taken a leap of faith into. I would like you describe what you are, what you are doing right now.
Yeah, so , um, my background is that I'm a scientist. Um, I got my PhD from Johns Hopkins , um, and I did a postdoc at U C S F before I started this company, Fila . And , um, I , I even have a background in chemistry before that, but , uh, what really motivates me and motivated me to start this company is a couple of things. The first is , um, this really cool , um, field that I was working on and I still working at the , at at the time, which is microbiome research, right ? Mm-hmm. <affirmative> , um, microbiome research , uh, deals with the bacteria and microbes that live in and on our body. They live in our gut, they live in our mouth, they live in our skin, et cetera . Um, and what the research from the last 20 years has shown is that they play a key role in our health , um, and something that was literally just under our nose, but we didn't even realize it. Um, and so when I was doing microbiome research starting out, I was fascinated by all the amazing innovations that were coming out almost on a monthly basis mm-hmm. <affirmative> . But then I realized that these innovations in , in the sort of scientific literature were being talked about and then disappearing. Um, and that made me kind of restless because I thought that here's a , a , a lot of insight, scientific insight that has the potential to change people's lives, and yet it's not somehow finding its way into products, or at least if mine might not fast enough. And so I really started this company to be able for, for us to be able to take this science from the lab to people's hands, to build this into products , uh, that, you know, outperform and beat everything else that's on the market, informed by the latest research in science, so that people then pick it up, look at it and say, wow, this works so much better. This beats out everything else that I've ever used or thought of using. Why isn't this more of a thing? Why don't they, they do this for acne. Why don't they do this for eczema? And so on and so forth . Mm-hmm . <affirmative> mm-hmm . <affirmative> . And then we go and build the next thing. Um, the other thing that really motivated me was, was phage technology. It's the technology that we use in the company. It's foundational to our, our products and it , we'll talk more about this, but phages are these ubiquitous organisms. They're tiny harmless viruses that kill bacteria. Uh , they're everywhere. They're in seawater, they're in soil, they're all of our body. Billions of them pass through each, each of us every day . Um, and their nature's best defense against bacteria yet for a number of bacterial diseases where they might be a great solution. We haven't taken advantage of that yet. And built products containing phages that can hit the target without doing any collateral damage, give you amazing results without giving you side effects or relapses. Um, and my mission really, you know, has been for the past 10 years and will continue to continue to sort of bring pH technology into the forefront, build products that are incredibly innovative and, and kind of really first in class based on this technology.
And thanks for sharing that. And what , um, what I really enjoy is that you are using your background of science and really wanting to put it your , quote your words in the hands of, and that's something I think , um, can be really disheartening when we read all this cool stuff, but we can't get it in our hands. We can't get access to it. And I have a , a biochemistry degree and I love to research stuff on my free time, but that is not everyone's day-to-day life. They would like things explained , um, in a way that makes sense, but not to sit down, read a journal articles and have to understand the different , um, statistical values, et cetera . When you, when you formed this company, you took a leap also from being a scientist into then being an entrepreneur at the same time. How can you describe some of that experience for you? Like what, where, where were you in the , in your mind with that?
Absolutely. Um, I fell into entrepreneurship almost by accident. Um, I was a postdoc at U C S F doing this amazing research, but also wondering, okay, you know, get , getting older , uh, what do I want to do with the rest of my life? What do I wanna do when I grow up <laugh>? Um, and I was really passionate about both microbiome research and this phage technology, and I was finding, trying to find a way that I could work on this, but also, you know, what else could I do that might be interesting to me? Um, and so a friend of mine told me, Hey, you know, last quarter I took, or last semester I took this really cool course that they're offering about entrepreneurship. You know what it is? I was like, no. I mean, I know people start companies in San Francisco Bay area where there's a lot of tech in biotech, but I had no idea what it entailed, what it was, what , how you turned an idea into a business. Um, and really, I was so lucky to be in the Bay Area in U C S F specifically, which has a , a lot of support and resources for people with , um, good ideas , um, or scientific ideas that they want to convert into a business. Um, and so I took the course , um, I actually started , uh, so you had to form teams around an idea and then enter the course and, you know, and develop that idea. Through the course. I tried to join other people's teams, but none of their ideas seem particularly inviting to me specifically. Um, and so I said, Hey, I have this idea about the face technology and the microbiome when I make a team around this idea and lead it into the, the , uh, course. Um, so that's what I did. Two , two weeks of frantic making calls, <laugh> just made it just under the wire. And they said, Hey, you know, you're coming in with this idea. Are you serious about it? Is your team serious? You're gonna have to put in a lot of work. And I said, yes, yes, we are. And the end of this , uh, uh, sort of , uh, course not only did we have kind of a validated idea, but but the idea itself had legs where we were like, oh, I thought we'd just take this idea and , and use it to get through the course. No, the idea itself is a good idea. And so that was a kernel of, of what, what was to become my company. Um, and so then I did a lot of research sort of separate from my postdoc nights and weekends in a separate facility, did a lot of foundational research for Fila . Um, we wrote an n I H grant , uh, we got the grant. Um, and that was really what allowed us to do, start doing a lot of dedicated research , uh, for the company.
And so with that, I like to pause because a lot of times people think, oh, they're just trying to, you know, get my money and it's another program on this like that you have used your investment in time of your personal interest, right? Even if you didn't start a company you were really into , um, using and , and, and educating the, the public on microbiome research, how we can use phase . It , it wasn't just a , oh , let me make a product. You really wanted to make a change and then found that connection through this course to make that change. Um, and what I have read about you as well is that you, you were quoted that it is important to take, take that small, bold first step and that it's that one step at a time. Where do you feel like your boldness came from with the first steps of this where you find yourself today?
You mean, what was that first step that, that Yes , was , um, I would say that it was quitting my postdoc and starting the company. And it was really something that we had to do at that point because we'd been awarded this n NIH grant. Um, and so just framing this, we didn't expect to get this grant because these grants are very hard to get mm-hmm . <affirmative> , and pretty much no one gets them the first time they write him , you know, they, they knock it back. They say, oh, it was, it's not so great. Make these changes and maybe we'll reconsider it. And you go through two or three cycles. So it was really a surprise to us when we, when we wrote it, and we weren't expecting, we were expecting comments back and we were expecting to, you know, make, make a revision and we submitted . So when they, they gave it to us and we were really shocked , um, and , and in a good way. But then you have to say, oh, now what? Right? And , and so then I was faced with, you know, I had a young family, really young kids , um, and I was really having to put my money where my mouth was, right? Go out on a limb and say, okay, you know , this is your idea. Things are not moving fast. You have to take the step into the unknown, quit your job, and then , uh, do this very risky science , uh, that will either make a company or you'll, you, you won't find the stuff that you were going to find and it'll be a flop. And then where are you? You, you've given up your job and, and now you have to go look for something else. So I think that was my first, our first bold step.
And with that, I mean , uh, what I like about that is there is a rise. Like you stepped away from something that was your plan and your goal to do something that you, that came up that blossomed <laugh> out of that process. And that is , um, very important too. And you also met , sent , uh, that you were very lucky, and I always love what Oprah says, it's when luck is really, when opportunity meets preparation. You were preparing this entire time, and this is when the opportunities came about. You started Fila , you're , you're , you're working. And what would you say now how you feel about that process? You know, I'm sure it was scary and , um, all of those things, but how do you feel about yourself and this entire process?
Um, I still feel extraordinarily lucky. Um, and I can, you know, there's a whole number of times and instances where we could have , uh, gone outta business failed, you know, and there were times when it was really, like, I would say to myself, yo , what are you doing? Like, this is so difficult. And , um, there's so much, you know, failure involved. There's so much rejection, there's so much , um, kind of sometimes it just feels like you're, you're wandering around in the desert as it were. Um, but sort of keeping the faith and <laugh> , I'm very stubborn. I'm a very stubborn person, as my wife can tell you, <laugh> . Um, and I think that's a lot of, that was what carried me through , uh, some of the really kind of tough times. Um, I I , I think it's a little bit of my personality. I think entrepreneurs just need to have like a thick skin. And sometimes I would be like, am I doing the right thing? Am I misjudging this? Should I actually be spending my time going out and getting a job and giving this up because, you know, I have a family to support and , um, I'm kind of in the prime of my career, you know, am I doing the right thing? Um, so to , to each individual, to each individual circumstance, you know, you have to make those tough decisions. But , um, you know, when you have to make those tough decisions, you really have to dig deep and say, okay, why am I doing this? What am I doing this for? If this doesn't work out, what next then ? And there were times when I was like, okay , um, I don't think this is gonna work out. Um, in six months I'm gonna start looking for jobs. And so what do I do in those six months? Really focus hard and, and you know, you have no , no , don't hold back. You have nothing to lose. Um, so you have to have that mentality sometimes as well.
And, you know, speaking about nothing to lose, we have nothing to lose about learning more about our body and health. And, you know, even being in healthcare myself, I've heard about a microbiome, and it wasn't until more recently that I've been hearing it more commonly spoken about. Um, and I'd like you to, to talk about that, how it links to health and what sort of products you are developing to help people at this time.
Yeah, so a lot of people don't know or appreciate that we have a rainforest worth of diversity in our body, right? A a rainforest on our skin, a rainforest in our gut. Um, and this rainforest is invisible because its trees are made up of bacteria, viruses, fungi , um, and these microbes all come together to form a community, and that's the community that we call a microbiome, right? So just like a rainforest, this community forms a protective layer on our body and it protects us against disease and keeps us healthy every single day. Um, and just like a rainforest, you know, you and I are healthy , um, and our , uh, microbiomes may look nothing alike. Um, they probably don't. But the commonality between our microbiomes when we're healthy is that they're in balances . When we get a chronic bacterial disease, like , uh, for skin, it maybe acne or eczema for gut, you know, there are a number of dysbiotic conditions. Um, typically one bacteria comes in overgrows and causes an imbalance in this beautiful, balanced community. Um, and so in order to go back to help from a state where you're sick, you need to redress that balance. You need to get that balance back and, and remove that imbalance state typically by, you know, stopping that one bacteria from overgrowing and taking over. And so a lot of the solutions for acne, actually all of them are antibacterial in nature. Whether you're talking about antibiotics or benzo peroxide or retinoids, however, they're indiscriminate killers. They're trying to kill the bad bacteria, but they're also killing the good bacteria because they , they aren't targeted enough. The result is they're taking this rainforest that protects us and turning it into a desert. And, and the, the not only does that do , do these harsh products, bringing side effects like redness, dryness, irritation, but more importantly in thinning out this protective layer that we have. Um, they're actually setting you up for acne relapses. And this is a very common , uh, experience of acne sufferers, which is that they have, they try something, it's, it's kind of harsh, but it works for a couple of months and then it stops working and they're back to square one. They spent all this emotional energy and time and money, and they're really frustrated. So, so our strategy is something that's completely different, right? So informed by the latest microbiome research, we know the bacteria in acne that is overgrowing. We use phages, which are very deadly to the bacteria, but also very specific. So they'll kill only the bacteria. They don't have the ability to kill any other , uh, bacteria in your community, in your microbiome. And it specifically reduces the acne bacteria overgrowth below the threshold that it causes inflammation because the bacteria overgrows your body, senses it, and, and sends in its immune system. And that's what the ifl inflammation is, the whiteheads, the, the , uh, pimples, et cetera . So what is this doing? This is actually recalibrating your microbiome to a healthy state in a natural way, using something that's very, very specific and, and a far more elegant solution than the kind of nuclear option where you're dropping a bomb on your skin microbiome. And so not only do we have zero side effects, but we're actually leaving you to a path for clear skin for life because we're helping you rebalance your microbiome and keep it that way for the rest of your life.
And that is something that , um, would apply to a lot of people , um, all genders, many ages. Um, and especially with , uh, what you're talking about, the rainforest and the desert, it's , um, as we're trying to heal ourselves , uh, with our skin or even , um, you know, when we're in those moments, we're trying to take an antibiotic for an infection, we're kind of clearing it out and then we set ourselves up for another sort of infection, <laugh> . But , um, you know, you having to find that balance and what you said is that there is a balance that you're looking for and it's emotional, it's psychological, and it's also physical. Can you share a little bit more about your company, how people can learn more about it, can learn more about you and, and the products that you offer to assist them?
Absolutely. Um, so , uh, uh, my company is Fila , um, p h y l a . Um , you can find firstname.lastname@example.org , uh, where you can learn more about our technology, more about the science of acne , um, and then obviously we have our products there as well. Um, as a science-based company, we take our role as sort of educators and MythBusters about acne very seriously. So not only on our website, but also on social media where you can find us at at file biotics , um, whether it's on Instagram or or Facebook or um, Twitter, TikTok, you can find , um, a number of videos demystifying acne, telling you what the root cause is, how the products that you're using work , um, you know, what their pros and cons are. And then obviously how the file system works as well. You can find all of this information , um, and, you know, we wanna sort of offer your listeners , um, a discount just so that they can tri file a and , and see how, you know, clear skin can change their life. Um, and so we are , we're offering a discount code i t r 20 for in the rising, so I t r 20 for 20% off all Fila products.
Okay . And I will also have all that information in our show notes. I think what you're doing to bridge that science and that emotional healing, because especially with acne, you know, you, you feel less confident if you don't feel good in your skin. And so it's not just making this outward change, it is helping people feel more confident and more courageous and feel like they're really putting their best face and foot forward. So that's an amazing e amazing emotional support that you're offering the entire world. So that is amazing work.
Thank you. And just to kind of put a point to that , um, there was a study done in Britain a few years ago that looked at people with acne and without acne. And they said that people with acne actually have , uh, 63%, so almost two thirds higher risk of mental health problems than people without acne. So yes, it's a skin disease, but it's also a mental health disease that , uh, affects us when we're teenagers, when we're particularly vulnerable, looking for a place in life, looking to figure out who we are. Um, and so it's really important for us from that point of view, from that psychological and , and mental health support point of view as well.
And so to that point, you know, like trying your products out, you have nothing to lose, but everything to gain. And that is a very good calculated risk <laugh> when we're looking at where we're gonna put our money and our time. If you have nothing to lose, but so much to gain and how that can , um, create a difference for yourself or the ones that you love, that is a , a huge difference.
Absolutely. And um, you know, our position is that a lot of our customers come to us having tried everything under the sun, right? Going to dermatologists , trying this brand, that brand, trying benzo peroxide and full exfoliants and chemical peels and, and really being very tough on their skin cuz they have a legitimate problem to solve. Um, and then Fila works for them and they're so grateful and, and so we sort of right now are sort of a last resort because people are just hearing about us. Obviously we're a small brand, small company, but in time I'd love , love us for us to be the first , uh, sort of line of treatment because like you said, you have nothing to lose in everything to gain. Um, and that's really quite powerful for acne .
Yeah . Well, congratulations on following your, your dream. I'm glad your friend talked to you about this entrepreneur class and that you took it and you realized , um, what, what you really wanted to work on, what team, and it was your own team, so you took yourself forward with that and you stepped into a place of , uh, being uncomfortable and you're making a change for humanity. And so that is I think, underlying why you went into what you went into <laugh> to some extent.
Thank you. I appreciate that. I feel like we've just started our journey , uh, even though we've been in research and, and you know, the first six years and we launched a couple of years ago, but I feel like we're at the start of something really exciting. Um, and if, you know, I can produce products based on phage technology for acne and a few other conditions, I think that would be , uh, incredible. But I find that very gratifying.
So I am really excited that he talked about the importance of loving the skin that you're in and loving the way that you feel. It is important to feel good about yourself on the inside. And I love to emphasize that because when you feel good on the inside, the glow does come out externally. But there is also something about wearing clothes that you feel good in having your hair done, having your nails put together and just feeling good with what is on the external as well. It does feed and continues to grow in that cycle. And so if you're interested in his products, I have all of his information in the show notes below. And don't forget to use I t r 20 as a promo code. Thank you so much for being with me today. I am so grateful for your time because that is the one thing we do not get back. And if you know someone who would benefit from this podcast show, I am as excited. If you know someone who would benefit from today's podcast, I urge you to share it. The more hands and ears that we put the show in, the greater the impact. And until next time, let's keep building one another