Dr Guanchen Sun is the Co-Founder and Research and Development Director at Biogency, the Australian biotech company dedicated to creating science-backed health and beauty products that help people live healthier lives.
Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?
I completed my Bachelor of Pharmacy at The University of Sydney with honours and went straight into my PhD study, which focused on anti-ageing. In 2017, our research culminated in the first Australian NAD+ anti-ageing formula being approved by the Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA) for the local market, and we’ve continued to refine and improve our growing product range since then.
I feel so lucky that my PhD research can be converted to products that are accessible to the public and that people can benefit from. Synext, for example, incorporates fifteen active ingredients that serve to increase a variety of functions in the body, including triggering a series of positive cellular activities related to anti-ageing.
It improves your energy levels, cardiovascular health, relieves inflammation and reduces brain fog. Knowing that people are increasingly battling long working hours, increased levels of stress and unhealthy lifestyles, we wanted to create a supplement that could support the functioning of healthy bodies, making people feel youthful and energised.
At Biogency, we’ve developed a very efficient product design loop based on marketing feedback and the latest scientific research, which allows us to constantly improve and optimise our products.
We also recently achieved significant success in the research of epigenetics — an area of study which explores how environmental influences affect the way your genes work — and a major upgrade to our products is on the way. Our primary goal is to bring the most advanced anti-ageing technology to everyone.
We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?
I usually get up at around 7am, taking my supplements before leaving home. I always grab an iced latte on the way to the office regardless of the weather and take public transport, making sure my total walking time is more than 30 minutes. I love being able to squeeze in some morning exercise!
My work starts with reviewing the latest health news and summarising recently published research, then checking and making plans for lab work. In the afternoon I usually have a meeting with the sales and marketing team to discuss feedback and improvements in products. I fast regularly, so I usually skip lunch and afternoon tea.
After work, I cook dinner for my family on weekdays and try to finish eating before 7pm. If there’s no urgent work that needs to be done I enjoy some family time after dinner and go to bed at around 10.30pm.
Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?
For me, it’s crucial to cultivate both physical and mental fitness. I always try to self-regulate and maintain habits that keep me happy, focused and energised, from eliminating sugar, regular exercise and taking supplements. As mentioned above, I fast regularly, skipping lunch and afternoon tea to complete most of my work during the daytime.
Work-life balance is also about understanding what eases your mind. For me it’s shopping for groceries, cooking and spending time with family that eliminates stress and anxiety. On weekends I usually go on bushwalks to enjoy fresh air, sunlight, and green spaces. Nature reinvigorates and recharges me, giving me the energy I need for another week of intensive work.
Change is constant, and it’s essential for growth. Have you made any lifestyle changes in the past year to improve your work-life balance?
I started Biogency in 2017 and had my first kid at the end of 2019. Then, a few months later, the global pandemic arrived. Safe to say, my life has seen a lot of change over the past few years and I’ve grown as a result.
My lifestyle has changed significantly too — not just in the past year but incrementally over the last six years. In 2017, I quit sugar and gradually shifted to a low carbohydrate diet. I also started taking the first iteration of Synext, and by combining that with a healthier diet, I was able to lose over 25kg and my blood results improved tremendously. More recently, I started fasting from 2 meals to 1 meal a day, and now restrict my alcohol intake to less than 2 standard drinks per week.
While these lifestyle changes can seem like a lot for some, they’re routines that I’ve adopted gradually over time and have been vital for helping me restore my health, and manage the pace and challenges that come with being part of a fast-growing company. By making incremental changes to my routine, I’m able to do my best work and empower those around me.
We’re always on the lookout for new resources! Can you recommend any books, podcasts, or newsletters that have helped you in your journey toward balance?
For those looking to make changes to their diet, CSIRO Low-Carb Diet by Assoc. Prof. Grant Brinkworth and Pennie Taylor provide a great foundation for understanding and practising a healthy diet.
Lifespan: Why We Age – and Why We Don’t Have To by Dr David Sinclair is another vital read exploring ideas behind ageing and how we can cope with it.
Before we wrap up, do you have any final words of wisdom or insights on work, life, or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Don’t be a slave of dopamine. Self-regulation is difficult and it’s an ongoing journey, but I truly believe that it can be transformative for your health, goals and quality of life. There’s power in being able to understand your thoughts, feelings and impulses, and learn to develop effective ways of managing them.
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