“In some ways, it feels as if my journey has only just begun,” Dr. Desirée Cox said.
Dr. Desirée Cox grew up in The Bahamas before the country’s independence, and not on the tropical vacationing side of Nassau – instead on the poor side, the ‘over-the-hill’ neighborhoods in a family of founders for fundamental Christian Pentecostal churches. Her mother, Ena-Mae Cox, insisted that her daughters have the best possible educational opportunities. She wanted her girls to be strong independent women with the skills and confidence to chart their own destinies and create their place in the world.
“I grew up poor and with a richness of love, hope and possibility all around me,” Dr. Desirée said.
Dr. Desirée was an all-around exceptional academic student with a strong interest and aptitude in the sciences and a passion for music. With a father, James, who taught himself to play four musical instruments professionally and to speak fluent French from comic books and listening to a French-speaking station on transistor radio, Dr. Desirée had it in her blood to love music and would go on to sing and play the piano and perform. This idea that you can do anything you put your mind to, with or without money, was built into Dr. Desirée’s DNA from childhood.
Dr. Desirée started her academic journey studying quantum chemistry at McGill University. She then went on to win a Rhodes Scholarship to study medicine at Oxford University, becoming the first Bahamian to win a Rhodes Scholarship and the first woman British Caribbean Rhodes Scholar. As a medical student, she was struck by a sense – an instinct and deep intuition – that the Western approach to medicine was somehow primitive, and that there must be a better way. This idea became a significant driver for her years in clinical medicine studies.
“I would wake up at around four o’clock in the morning and read philosophy, medical anthropology, and history of the sciences. I read across a wide range of disciplines in the sciences, arts, and humanities, trying to refine my question. Even back then, I knew my intuition that the medicine I was being trained to practice was primitive was just a hint at something deeper, something I was reaching for but could not quite see. It took three years of clinical medical training to refine the question I was trying to answer,” she said.
Dr. Desirée’s intense curiosity and focus immersed her in a community of Oxford University students and Rhodes Scholars studying in a place where she could openly discuss her ideas and share them with her fellow students and professors while attending regular medical lectures. This ultimate question pressed and tugged at her continuously: How did we end up with the medicine and medical system we currently have, and could we reverse engineer this to create a more advanced, more ‘whole-person’ centered system that’s more aligned with the mind-body’s ability to heal itself?
After completing her medical degree at Oxford University, Dr. Desirée went to Cambridge University to earn her Master of Philosophy (MPhil) and Ph.D. degrees. Her advanced studies focused on the social, historical, cultural, methodological, and political issues that shaped Western medicine and the randomized control clinical trial (RCT) used for determining the efficacy of modern biomedicines. Dr. Desirée eventually specialized in psychiatry in London after completing her Ph.D. In her quest to embody the new medical paradigm she aimed to champion, she retrained her singing voice and, for a while, worked as a doctor by day and jazz singer by night. In the years to come, Dr. Desirée would become a professional visual artist and the CEO/Founder of the Biotech R&D company BioPep, as well as a medical doctor and musician.
There are many roads to regenerative health. For Dr. Desirée, navigating her path to the emerging field of regenerative medicine and activating the body’s self-healing mechanisms (while still working as a doctor) spanned close to two decades and crossed into different vistas of medicine, research, academia, arts, and humanities, and even the pharmaceutical industry. Ultimately, she concluded that the key to regenerative health and longevity is lifestyle and behavioral change, as well as repair and reversal of metabolic damage.
In 2014, she was invited by the prime minister of The Bahamas, who was visiting London at the time, to help the Bahamian government develop an ethical model for research on stem cell and regenerative medicines to be conducted safely and ethically. The idea was that patients with unmet needs would be able to come to The Bahamas and have access to these advanced therapies with ethical and regulatory oversight.
Beyond the safety aspect, which is paramount, Dr. Desirée’s vision is that the data and evidence collected by US and internationally-based companies providing access to stem cells and regenerative medicine technologies in The Bahamas could be repatriated to the US and elsewhere as part of their dossier for obtaining FDA and European Medicines Association (EMA) regulatory authorization.
“The organizing and operating systems we create shape our realities and our ability to realize the potential of the technologies we discover and develop,” Dr. Desirée said.
In 2018, Dr. Desirée received a Stem Cell Advocacy Award at the World Stem Cell Summit (WSCS) for her work in The Bahamas. That same year, she created The HEALinc (https://www.thehealinc.org) and the annual HEALinc Future Health Innovation Summit (https://www.healincsummit.com) platform, the realization of a vision whose origins date back to her medical school days at Oxford. The mission of The HEALinc is to advance the future of healthcare through cutting-edge technologies, mentorship of future health leaders, and education on scientific breakthroughs and innovative healing products. She is particularly passionate about incorporating “young minds” into her Summit so that young adults can get a glimpse of the future of medicine and the sciences beyond their textbooks.
“The idea was always for the 2018, 2019, and 2023 HEALinc Summits – the first five years of the Summit – to be held in The Bahamas. From 2023 onwards, the HEALinc Summit will be held biannually in The Bahamas. In the years between 2024 and 2026 we’ll be convening the Summit in different parts of the world, because my aim is to connect the dots,” Dr. Desirée said.
The Summit has a clear purpose of connecting the dots between quality of life, longevity, and regenerative health to generate a newly connected narrative so people can embed their own personalized health and wellness system in this new paradigm of medicine. In a world where biotech entities, governments, and organizations are constantly competing to prove they offer the best in healthcare, it’s easy for individuals to become confused about what’s right for themselves, their families, and their communities.
“You see, when we think of operating systems, it’s important to see the human mind-body as a complex operating system. Where the mind goes, the body must follow. That’s why the aim of the HEALinc Summit is to curate a dynamic connected story of regenerative health so people are empowered to reprogram their minds and reclaim their power and self-sovereignty. ‘Your Health, Your Future, Your Decision’ is the HEALinc motto. So, every year the Summit meets, people will be part of the story as it evolves and emerges,” she said.
The main goal Dr. Desirée wants to achieve is quality of life paired with longevity through her Summit, her work, and regenerative medicine. She believes that life is not worth living if there is no incentive to pursue longevity. That’s why Dr. Desirée aims to achieve both.
In working to achieve this ideal, Dr. Desirée believes that the healthcare workforce also needs to evolve.
Dr. Desirée plans to make the materials available afterward so others can work and educate themselves on the topics covered at the Summit. The publication of the HEALinc Summit proceedings in journals, as well as recordings of the lectures, will be used to help attendees of the Summit educate themselves. Being able to attend the Summit virtually as well as in-person makes this possible.
Both medical and non-medical professionals from all over the world attend and sponsor Dr. Desirée’s Summit because they believe in her goals and passion for creating a new, more inclusive paradigm of health that embraces diverse views.
“I’m blown away every year and really grateful for the number of people that contribute in so many different ways to make these three days possible,” Dr. Desirée said.
Dr. Desirée Cox, MD, MPhil, Ph.D., is a medical doctor, visual artist, and CEO of the US Regenerative Medicine R&D Biotech company BioPep. Since 2015 she has spearheaded the ethical model and regulatory oversight system for stem cell and regenerative medicine in The Bahamas. She is based in New York and The Bahamas and is the CEO/Founder of The HEALinc. The HEALinc Future Health Innovation Summit focuses on longevity and quality of life through regenerative therapy forms. It pairs with healthcare innovators and leaders to improve the overall health of humankind while ensuring accessible and affordable ways to achieve the goal of people worldwide. To learn more about her upcoming 2023 HEALinc Summit, held from April 17th -19th at The Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island, The Bahamas, or to register for it, visit https://www.healincsummit.com.