Life Extension Magazine®

Issue: Apr 1999

Bridging the Gap Physical Well Being

Dr. Karl Ullis M.D.'s novel approach to health is the way to well-being, at any age!

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, on January 2021.

by Amber Needham

image Karlis Ullis M.D. is energetic, youthful, and certainly practices what he preaches. He is an example to his patients: he takes his daughters to the beach, rollerblading with proper solar protection. He practices weight training and the Zen of "being in the moment," and eats natural, organic foods. Dr. Ullis continuously reminds himself that "Life is beautiful. We just need to practice living it."

Dr. Ullis brings to his patients information gathered from over 20 years of experience in sports medicine, as he bridges the gap between the elite athlete and the aging baby boomer. A distinguished M.D. and anti-aging specialist, Dr. Ullis believes in having first hand knowledge of the programs he prescribes to his patients: caloric restriction, exercise regimens, supplements, hormonal and anti-aging medications, and "stress resistance building" mental exercise. Not surprisingly, he has tried most of the anti-aging supplements and methods that he advises his patients take.

No less than impressive, his background is extensive. After obtaining his medical degree from the University of Washington in Seattle, Dr. Ullis received specialization training at UCLA, where he has been an assistant clinical professor for over 25 years. His interest in anti-aging medicine began early on, during his residency at UCLA in Pediatrics, and later as a postgraduate fellow at the University of Washington in Adolescent Medicine. At the UCLA Pediatric Endocrinology Department in the early 70s he treated children who had shortness of stature with growth hormone, and worked with children with the extremes of aging called Progeria. Later at the University of Washington he was involved in research projects on the experimental use of Anovaran anabolic steroid- for adolescents whose stature was shorter than normal.

The exercise sciences, i.e. biomechanics, exercise metabolism/endocrinology, sports rehabilitation, ergogenics- energy production, body recompositioning- fat loss, and sports supplementation are among the fortes that set him apart. He first began his studies in sports medicine with James Garrick, considered the "Father of Sports Medicine" by many, at the University of Washington. Then in 1978 at UCLA he began his sports medicine clinical work. At the UCLA Pauley Pavilion clinic he treated many of the world's best athletes: Reggie Miller, Mike Powell, Flo Jo Joyner, Jackie Joyner Kersee and Wille Banks, among others. He has also worked with some of the world's best coaches in basketball, football and track and field including Larry Brown, Terry Donahue, Jon Smith, Art Venegas and Joe Douglas.

His credentials in the anti-aging field extend from research to the published word. He is a member of the editorial board of the Mary Liebert Publication. The Journal of Anti-Aging Medicine. As a member of the Los Angeles Gerontology Research Group he co-developed an intensive course on anti-aging medicine along with colleague Stephen Coles, M.D., Ph.D. The course is designed for professionals who wish to specialize in the field. He has published articles in a variety of journals including The New England Journal of Medicine.


According to Dr. Ullis, the reality of putting a halt to the aging process is a lot closer than we can imagine. He concurs with Dr. Michael Fossel's M.D., Ph.D. statement, "It is not a question [of] whether aging will be stopped, but rather of how and when it will happen." According to Dr. Ullis, the incredible explosion of basic scientific information on aging and senescence at the genetic and molecular level may enable those who stay healthy for the next 25 years to become biologically younger. In essence, he says, "the concept of agelessness may not be science fiction any more."

At his Santa Monica, California Sports Medicine and Anti-Aging Clinic, Dr. Ullis and his associates attack the biomechanical dimension of aging, in addition to three others. They use complementary methods of musculoskeletal healing involving such disciplines as Rolfing, Neuromuscular Therapy (NMT), Alexander, Crarilo-sacral, Hellerwork, Feldenkreis and manual therapies administered by registered Physical Therapists, and home exercise programs with highly trained personal trainers. He helps patients to stay in tune with the biomechanical process of aging: with a mere touch of his experienced hands he can rapidly assess where the joints, bones and soft tissues have aged through misalignments, contractions and muscle imbalances. After proper biomechanical treatments he observes, "There is nothing more beautiful than to witness the transformation of a weak and stooped over, aging person into a biologically young person with an erect posture, fluidity of joint motion and with restored muscular strength."

Dr. Ullis' strength as an M.D. stems from a variety of sources. He immersed himself in the world of performance enhancement by serving as team physician in five Olympic Games, the last three of which were with the Latvian Olympic team, from his native country. He remembers well his work with the Latvian Olympic Bobsled Team in the Alberville and Lillehammer Olympic Games: "The driver of the bobsled had to be at the peak of his mental capacity. Going down the steep ice track the driver has to make 16-18 turns at over 100 mph, all by mental feel and incredibly subtle and quick neuromuscular reaction," says Ullis. "I learned a lot about cognitive enhancement from these and other athletes who require the ultimate in mental and physical sharpness." Working with elite athletes, he has had the pleasure of witnessing their winning numerous gold medals and setting world records.

During the Olympic games Dr. Ullis worked closely with the International Olympic Committee on Doping Control in sports. He is a member of the prestigious International Growth Hormone Research Society, and participated in the meetings in London, 1996 and in San Francisco, 1998, where top scientific studies on growth hormone and related agents such as OH secretagogues and IGF-1 were presented by world-renowned research groups.

What most differentiates Dr. Ullis from other medical doctors is his tailor-made, patient-specific program that he frequently modifies. "The body is like a flowing river, constantly adapting to obstacles put in its path," is a central theme carried throughout his practice. In essence, the body adapts to the system imposed upon it- both negatively and positively. Consider starvation as a form of weight loss, for instance. The body adapts by decreasing its metabolic rate- the primitive survival mechanism for species preservation. When the body is depleted of hormones the result is up-regulation- increased hormonal sensitivity; when it is flooded with a hormone there is down-regulation- deceased sensitivity. A successful anti-aging program requires regular monitoring, and modifications as needed.

In short, Dr. Ullis believes no one is too old or too sick to be helped. His idea of the ideal patient is someone who comes to him with an understanding of the aging process or has motivation to learn, so that both patient and doctor become partners in the anti-aging, healing process. Dr. Ullis believes it is vital for the patient to play an active role in the decision-making process.