Fasting Ted Talks, Part 1: 15-year old Samay’s autophagy research that won him a $400,000 scholarship

Written By Mikayla H

Samay Godika, popular vote winner at the Breakthrough Junior Challenge 2017, and Saffin Mathew, curator of TEDxLavelleRoad, discuss Autophagy and how it delays and reverses the aging process.  

Takeaways from a TedTalk lecture on autophagy and anti-aging.


Here are our top takeaways from Samay’s lecture on fasting and autophagy:

– Samay is an impressive 15-year old! He made it to the finals of the Breakthrough Junior Challenge, a global competition where students create videos on complex, but illuminating science topics. The winner of this competition wins a prestigious scholarship.

– Samay chose autophagy because some of his family members suffered from  neurological diseases and he wanted to help. He was fascinated by the self cleansing process that takes place through autophagy when fasting and wondered how this could be used to prevent and treat disease.

– He makes the analogy of our body being a house and comparing autophagy to a vacuum cleaner inside of it that cleans up dust as the house gets dirty. Autophagy is just removing waste.

– He then explains that autophagy and fasting is so interesting to him because of its ancient roots. Samay notes that autophagy is still a relevant and popular topic as the 2016 Nobel prize in medicine was awarded to Yoshinori Ohsumi for his findings on autophagy.

– He took a topic that does not have enough awareness because it can be boring to learn about through traditional methods and decided to gamify and use story-telling to make the research more fun to learn about.

– Out of 3,000 videos, Samay was the one who won the popular vote and went to finals. He recruited his family members, friends, and science based facebook groups to vote for his video. He also got free print and media coverage as well. He noted how exciting it was to connect with strangers through his presentation of this research.

Check out the official Breakthrough Junior Challenge article announcing his achievement and explaining the competition and their partners here!

Samay’s humor and spirit make him an energetic and fun TedTalk guest. He’s just a normal teenager with big goals. He says in the future, he hopes to learn how to bridge the gap between neuro-science and data science to find cures to diseases, how to sustain a company that presents educational materials through videos and comic books, how to pass on the kindness he has received, and how to get his parents to buy him a drone!


Here are a couple of Samay’s Youtube videos where he explains his research further, but in a fun and fresh way:


Here are the findings of Yoshinori Ohsumi’s research that won him the 2016 Nobel Prize in Medicine:


Also, here are a few other fasting resources you may enjoy: 

  • Why We Get Fat and What We Can Do About It – What’s making us fat? And how can we change? Building upon his critical work in Good Calories, Bad Calories and presenting fresh evidence for his claim, bestselling author Gary Taubes revisits these urgent questions.
  • Some of Dr. Jason Fung and Dr. Megan Ramos’ other books: The Obesity Code,The Diabetes Code, and The Cancer Code
  • Fasting with Dr. Pradip Jamnadas – Top 4 undeniable benefits of fasting – Dr. Pradip Jamnadas passionately discusses the many benefits of fasting. Some  amazing benefits include stem cell restoration, increasing HGH, brain derived neurotrophic factor and improving insulin sensitivity 

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