Jeffry S. Life, M.D., Ph.D.
Living a Life of Excellence
Recipient of the 2007 Alan P. Mintz, M.D. Award for Clinical Excellence in Age Management Medicine
To say Dr. Jeffry S. Life’s journey from family practice to becoming the first recipient of the Alan P. Mintz, M.D. Award was interesting would be an understatement. The annual AMMG award for medical excellence in age management is given to a physician demonstrating Dr. Mintz’s high standards in science, patient care and personal health lifestyle. Without a doubt, Dr. Life walks along that path—paving it with hard work, dedication and a passion for knowledge.
Dr. Life’s enthusiasm for science and learning was evident early on. Born in Cleveland and raised in Indianapolis and Michigan, he earned a B.A. in biology and chemistry from Albion College, a master’s in human physiology and pharmacology from Wayne State University School of Medicine, and then a Ph.D. in environmental toxicology from the University of Michigan. He also was a visiting scholar at the University of Michigan, having a joint appointment in the Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine, Department of Environmental and Industrial Health and School of Public Health.
By 1971, Dr. Life decided to attend medical school at the University of Iowa, where he was accepted with an advanced standing. At 33, he was the oldest first-year med student in his class. While at the university, he worked part-time as a research scientist on studies regarding thermal stresses on hepatic drug-metabolizing enzyme systems, protein synthesis, heavy metals and chlorinated hydrocarbons.
Dr. Life went on to complete his residencies (family practice and internal medicine) at West Virginia University School of Medicine in Morgantown, then became board certified and entered family practice and emergency medicine.
In 1990, he was a Fellow at the American Academy of Family Physicians. In addition to his practice in Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania, he also became the medical director of both the Wyoming County Correctional Facility and Catholic Social Services.
Yet according to Dr. Life, the story really begins around 1998—when his personal health transformation and discovery of Age Management Medicine emerged. In the fall of 1997, he hit a bad patch in his personal life, struggling through a divorce. He was depressed, overweight and pre-diabetic with high cholesterol. Then one day, a patient left a copy of Muscle Media magazine in the exam room. He took it home, read it, subscribed to it and began down a course that revolutionized his life.
The January 1998 issue published winners of Bill Phillips’ Body-for-LIFE challenge. The remarkable before-and-after photos inspired Dr. Life to take action. Encouraged by his now-wife, Annie, he hired a trainer and nutritionist, then set out for 19 weeks of hard work—with a low-glycemic diet, nutraceuticals and exercise. The training paid off. He reduced his body fat, increased muscle mass and lowered his cholesterol levels.
Dr. Life—"Before and After"
He also became quite interested in the role of nutrition on the body and entered a master’s program at Marywood University to study sports nutrition and exercise science—while still maintaining a full-time medical practice. And when a professor left for a position elsewhere, the university hired Dr. Life as an assistant professor to teach graduate courses in nutrition.
He would later be selected for membership in the Theta Chapter of Alpha Epsilon Lambda—a national honor society for graduates and professional students—becoming the first graduate student chosen from Marywood University’s Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science.
But something more was brewing in his career path. Dr. Life recalls:
I received a brochure about a conference on age management and decided to go. It was huge—there were about 2,000 people. That's where I first met Dr. Alan Mintz and John Adams. I went up to their booth and listened to Alan give a talk with an interesting perspective about keeping hormone levels up to maintain youthfulness and improve quality of life.
Impressed by both Alan and John, I filled out a card and tossed it into a big jar filled with hundreds of others for a drawing they were having. The giveaway was a trip to Cenegenics in Las Vegas for a free Executive Health Evaluation. Lo and behold, they drew my name . . . and were intrigued by the name “Life.”
My evaluation was scheduled for December 1998. However, in the interim, I had been working hard on the Body-for-LIFE contest and got a call in early December from Susan Phillips—Bill Phillips' mother—who said I was among the top 10 people in the contest.
A few days later, I got the call. At age 60, I had won the EAS National Body-for-LIFE Challenge, becoming a Grand Champion. Unfortunately, that also meant having to fly out to Denver near the same time I was to be at Cenegenics. I called John Adams to explain; he was kind and understanding.
That was the last I talked with him. But every now and then, I would see an ad for Cenegenics and wondered how they were doing.
Hitting the wall. Since his initial training for the contest, Dr. Life had continued to exercise at the gym daily and eat healthy—but he noticed a shift starting to occur during his early 60s. He was losing ground. His energy levels, strength and muscle mass were declining, and he was gaining abdominal fat.
It was now April 2003 and Dr. Life just happened to be flying to Las Vegas for a meeting with Barry Sears, who was giving a conference on nutrition, health and disease. And as fate would have it, Alan, John and other Cenegenics staff were at the same conference.
I went up to John and said, “John, I'm Jeff Life.” He said, “I remember you—you're the one who won the Body-for-LIFE contest.”
I talked with him and Alan for a while and decided to sign up for their physician training in Age Management Medicine. The first opening, however, wasn’t until August. So I returned to Pennsylvania and my family practice . . . feeling quite unhappy there.
Back home, I was thinking about what Alan had shared and wondered what my hormone levels were. I ordered the tests and discovered some deficiencies. I called John and asked if there was any way I could get started on the Cenegenics healthy aging program before I started my physician training. He agreed. So we made arrangements to have my Executive Health Evaluation done. My Cenegenics physician reviewed my labs and other testing, creating a program that included hormone optimization.
Right away, I experienced huge benefits. By the time I arrived at Cenegenics for my August physician training, I had been on the program for two months. The second day of physician training at Cenegenics, I attended Practice Development Training, taught by John. I started asking questions about Cenegenics, how it's structured and if they were looking for any physicians. They were and I told him I was interested.
In September, Dr. Life and his wife, Annie, flew to Las Vegas for his official interview at Cenegenics, where he was offered a position. He started in January 2004 as a Cenegenics institute physician—finding it an incredible way to practice medicine ever since.
Practicing medical excellence. Going from family practice to Age Management Medicine had tremendous benefits, according to Dr. Life. Much of that was due to his learning from the pioneer of the medical specialty, Dr. Alan Mintz.
Alan expected us to excel in our knowledge base and clinical treatment of patients. He cast aside what “normal” was and wanted people to have a higher-quality life. Alan was all about being proactive in health and disease prevention. And that was a marked difference from a typical family practice where you’re limited to 5-to-7-minute office visits—while trying to convince patients to do things to help their health. Treating disease is frustrating . . . I didn’t like that at all. Now, in Age Management Medicine, I spend 2 ½ to 3 hours talking about nutrition, exercise and a healthy lifestyle with patients who really want to transform their health.
Of course, I felt totally inadequate when I first arrived at Cenegenics. My colleagues were quite knowledgeable. So I spent that first year preparing lectures, working on teaching modules, reading, learning and getting up to speed. Once again, Alan played a huge role in that. He fed all of us articles regularly to keep us informed. And since I worked out at the same gym as Alan, I made use of those times, talking with him about Age Management Medicine to keep learning as much as I could.
I also took it upon myself to write guidelines for diagnosing adult growth hormone deficiency—which are poorly defined in medical literature. Even today, Cenegenics uses what I created to diagnose patients with adult growth hormone deficiencies. When I got started on that, Alan became interested and encouraged me. He was very supportive and helped in major ways, putting the final touches to it.
Over his Cenegenics tenure, Dr. Life’s dedication didn’t go unnoticed. He later became a senior institute physician—and somewhat of an icon in their healthy aging ads, inspiring thousands nationwide. Recently, he also was named chief medical officer of the Cenegenics Las Vegas center.
It was this level of commitment—evident throughout his career and personal life—that made him the ideal candidate for, and subsequent recipient of, the first-ever Alan P. Mintz, M.D. Award.
Alan opened up a whole new paradigm for me. He changed my entire view of medicine, from being reactive to becoming proactive—not only for my patients, but for all the doctors I now train and for myself.
Alan showed me that as we age, we really can get better. I truly believe that. I’ve become better in my last 4 ½ years on the Cenegenics Age Management Medicine program, from my quality of life, energy levels, strength and cognitive function to reducing my disease risk factors. I'm stronger with more muscle mass than back when I was doing the Body-for-LIFE contest—and my body fat percent is about the same as when I won that contest almost a decade ago. In fact, I have more flexibility now, and I even am pursuing a black belt in martial arts.
We’re going through a huge change in medicine. People in healthcare are looking for alternatives for the way medicine is being practiced. Physicians are looking to be proactive and do their best to keep people healthy . . . not adding years to their lives, but by adding life to their years—and that’s what Age Management Medicine is all about.
To me, receiving the Alan P. Mintz, M.D. Award for Clinical Excellence in Age Management Medicine carries with it a responsibility to continue Alan’s legacy and keep raising that bar, as he did, higher and higher.
Rabbi Yocheved Mintz had the pleasure of presenting the first Alan P. Mintz, M.D. Award, created by AMMG in honor of her late husband, to Dr. Jeffry Life at the Age Management Medicine Conference in Las Vegas
Dr. Jeffry Life, Dr. Joseph McWherter, and Rabbi Yocheved Mintz
Rabbi Mintz, Dr. McWherter, Dr. Life