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The Game Changers

Meet the new generation of innovators.

THE DIFFERENCE RUNNER // Running the good race

Gene Gurkoff (middle) turned his back on Wall Street and ran for his life—and the lives of others.

Gene Gurkoff was a finance lawyer for nearly seven years before he decided to do something more meaningful.

Using marathons as a jumping-off point, the 34-year old started running for various causes, eventually founding Team Fox in 2005 with the Michael J. Fox Foundation to raise money for Parkinson’s research. Today, with 38 marathons under his belt, Gurkoff is also the founder of Charity Miles, an app that earns money for charity when you walk, bike, or run. So far, with 100,000 active members, the app has raised $400,000 for charity. “We laid the basic infrastructure,” he says, “[The users] are doing all these amazing things with it. They’ve gone to the moon and back three times—that’s a lot of miles. —Ben Radding

Fit Fact: A veteran marathoner, Gurkoff sticks to a strict training regimen. “For marathons, I recommend running three days a week,” he says. “Two short or medium runs, and one longer run on the weekends. On the other days I recommend cycling, cross training, or hiking. I also walk to all my meetings, which, in NYC, can be an extra three to five miles a day.”

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THE BAR MENDER // Beefing up the protein bar

Taylor Collins (left) is taking a bite out of the supplement industry.

Taylor Collins once stared down a mountain lion during a camping trip. Now, he’s taking on the protein-bar market. Along with fiancée Katie Forrest, Collins set out to create the ultimate protein fix, one that doesn’t contain chemically derived soy or whey protein isolates. The result: Epic, a savory bar made with 100% grass-fed protein. “There’s nothing more encoded in our DNA than animal protein,” says the 31-year-old endurance athlete. “Our body knows how to metabolize it well because it’s how we evolved in consuming proteins. Other protein bars may boast 25 grams of protein, but if you really start to dissect it, the quality of the protein is a little bogus. So your body might be able to absorb only, say, eight grams of those 25.” Because Epic is low in sugar, it gives diabetic, Paleo, and gluten-free dieters a healthy snack option. Some detractors may point out the high fat content of Epic beef and bison bars, but Collins has that covered. “The misconception is that dietary fat leads to weight gain,” he says. “But recent research points out it’s more uncontrolled carb and sugar intake mixed with a sedentary lifestyle that really spikes insulin levels and thereby shuts down your body’s ability to break down fat.” Now available online (epicbar.com), Epic bars will also roll out in Whole Foods locations in mid-November. —Nate Millado

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THE RESEARCHER // Cracking the cancer code

Thanks to Isaac Kinde (right), physicians may soon be able to detect cancer with a blood test.

Isaac Kinde, a 29-year-old M.D.-Ph.D. candidate at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, is on a mission to detect cancer at the molecular level—when the disease is easiest to treat.

Earlier this year, Kinde’s research on using a patent-pending process to detect ovarian and endometrial cancers produced exciting results, which were published in the journal Science Translational Medicine. His team is now using the cutting-edge gene sequencing strategy to test for colon, pancreatic, and bladder cancers.

While larger-scale studies must be carried out before the new detection technique can be used in a clinical setting, Kinde hopes that the test will be ready for routine use within the next three to five years. “I have friends and family who are affected by cancer,” says Kinde. “There’s no shortage of reminders of how important it is to improve patient outcomes. —Hollis Templeton

Fit Fact: Kinde counts his daily bike commute as cardio and does three 30-minute weightlifting workouts a week. “Since I don’t have much free time, I keep each session efficient by doing only compound exercises like squats, bench presses, deadlifts, and pullups,” he says.

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