Q&A: Deepak Chopra and Rudolph Tanzi
Chatting at the urinal is usually taboo. But when both parties are doctors—one a leading Alzheimer’s researcher, the other a world-renowned spiritual guru—exceptions can be made. How else would two of the world’s most brilliant minds become best friends? What started in the restroom at a TEDMed conference has turned into a lifelong friendship—and a powerhouse book-writing collaboration. We talked to Deepak Chopra and Rudy Tanzi about writing, science, and their brainy bromance.
How did that first meeting turn into a book-writing collaboration?
Chopra: After we left the men’s room, we had a long discussion outside. And then we started writing to each other through emails about how every experience changes the structure of the brain. Right now, this experience that we’re having, this conversation between the three of us, is actually causing neural networks to fire in our brains. So this kind of conversation went on between the two of us for a long time over email. Then I think it was finally Rudy who said, “Let’s do a book.”
Tanzi: We started shooting videos in Deepak’s office. And we thought, Boy, if we took the content of these videos and of these various emails and put it into a book, it would be pretty interesting.
What was it like working together on the two books? Were there any major differences the second time around?
Chopra: Rudy would create the basic structure of the science, and then I would write a first draft. Then Rudy would revise that draft and then we would go back and forth until we both agreed that it made sense. I think science without story, facts without story, are very sterile. But when you give facts a story, you give the science a soul. And then this process became really effortless with the second book.
Tanzi: This time I did the science sections separately, and as I finished each one, I sent it to you. I don’t know what you think, Deepak, but I’m actually a little happier with Super Genes in terms of how it turned out.
Chopra: Yes, because in Super Genes we actually refined the science even further.
You two seem really close. Are you good friends when you aren’t working together?
Chopra: I think we’re not only great friends, we’re like brothers. We talk to each other every day. Rudy is amazing in that he’s not bound by conventional wisdom and science. For me this has been an amazing relationship.
Tanzi: Yeah, I mean, that actually really sums up well how I feel. We’re never afraid to dream what might be and then try to apply hard science and hard fact to it.
Chopra: Just three days ago, I think Rudy was in Switzerland attending some conference, and I was at an airport in California, and we must have texted each other 20 times about the connection between consciousness, brain, genome, epigenetics, and microbiome.
Tanzi: And that will probably be fodder for the next book.
Super Genes: Unlock the Astonishing Power of Your DNA for Optimum Health and Well-Being, by Deepak Chopra and Rudolph E. Tanzi, 336 pages, $26.