Consumer health and food-tech brand Muniq has hired Dr. Chris Damman as chief medical and science officer. Damman joins the brand after five years leading the gut health, microbiome and functional food initiative at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The hiring announcement comes on the heels of the brand’s $8.2M Series A funding round which closed in January.
At the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Damman’s research interests focused on the role of diet and microbiome-targeted therapies in treating gastrointestinal, metabolic, and neurologic disease, which aligns with Muniq’s “food as medicine” ethos to help people take back control of their health through the science of the gut microbiome. Dr. Damman is also a board-certified, practicing gastroenterologist.
Muniq addresses prevalent chronic health conditions by targeting the gut microbiome via nutritional shakes formulated with scientifically-validated ingredients to tackle blood sugar control, weight management, digestive health, and more.
Damman said his previous role and new role roles are very similar, telling NutraIngredients-USA that he is tapping into existing literature as well as next-generation approaches and applying them to helping the nutrition of underserved populations.
“There was an incredible amount of work happening at the foundation, but what's most relevant to my new role are the product development pipelines and clinical trials. We had a number of trials that involved next-generation foods and microbes as therapeutics for undernutrition. What’s remarkable is that the overnutrition that we focus on at UR Labs is just a different form of malnutrition and both have connections to the microbiome and gut dysfunction. The amazing parallels and similarities between the two are quite surprising and relevant,” explained Damman.
Spearheading the company’s first clinical trial
In his new role with the company, Damman will use his background to spearhead the company’s clinical validation efforts as well as partner with Muniq's product development team to define the future pipeline of solutions to help people regain better control of their health.
“We have an amazing team assembled,” said Damman. "Dr. Juan Pablo Frias is our Principal Investigator and we're super excited to have him on board. He has been Principal Investigator in a number of pharmaceutical trials particularly for diabetes and metabolism-related conditions, and will be applying this rigor and expertise to the food-as-medicine sector. We are also working with some of the most cutting edge groups in the microbiome metagenomics and metabolomics space including Dr. Justin Sonnenburg, Associate Professor of Microbiology & Immunology at Stanford. These investigations will help us understand better how the product works and inspire the possibility of new personalized approaches to next-generation products."
Damman told us that he is especially interested in metabolic syndrome at large, including all the conditions that involve overnutrition such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol. Ultimately, Damman said the team has its sights set on creating targeted nutrition-based solutions that work through the gut to address some of the most pressing health conditions of our time.
“This will entail a broad range of product formats,” he said.