Advisory Board

Dr. Nikolay Zak

Nikolay Zak, Ph.D. is a Mathematician and Economist, who is now researching Gerontology at the Moscow Society of Naturalists. He is best known for publishing his investigation into the fame of Jeanne Calment, who has been authoritatively validated to have died in 1997 at an age three years older than any other validated case. However, Nick’s published investigations have cast considerable doubt on Calment’s actual age at death, and lend credibility to the possibility of an identity switch with her daughter.

Nick earned his Ph.D. in Mathematics from Moscow State University in 2007 and his Master’s Degree of Arts in Economics in 2006 from New Economic School in Moscow.

Read Evidence That Jeanne Calment Died in 1934 — Not 1997. Read more at ResearchGate’s Jeanne Calment — The Secret of Longevity report from December 2018.

It all started with Valery Novoselov, assistant professor of the Department of Gerontology and Geriatrics of RUDN University in Moscow, when he was analyzing the survival curves of centenarians and supercentenarians and the case of Jeanne does not look like it fits into the survival curve models developed by the leading demographers of aging.

In his interview with Elena Milova, Valery explained:

The case of Jeanne Calment didn’t fit into any of the refined math models behind their studies. If we imagine the curves of survival in these studies, Jeanne is a dot away from the main trend that they describe. One more reason for suspicion is how far from other longevity records her age is. There are only two cases of this kind: Jeanne and Sarah Knauss, whose record is 119 years. All other supercentenarians are several years apart from them. Several years of difference in my or your age is nothing surprising compared to the same difference in very old age. Most longevity records are very close to one another. Whenever a new record is set, the person dies several days or several weeks later, very rarely several months later.

I invited a young mathematician, Nikolay Zak, to help me analyze the existing datasets on supercentenarians and see if Jeanne could fit in. He has found that she could not. The models developed by him claimed that if we rely on the laws of statistics, Jeanne as a phenomenon should not exist. It was such a big surprise to Nikolay that he decided to personally revalidate this case. His French is fairly good, so he reached out to the holders of the archives in Arles, found some volunteers there, and started to check every small detail.

Nick told the Washington Post that he became convinced that Calment’s age was suspicious in February while studying mortality patterns of people older than 105.

He said he started to investigate her life in September 2018.

I funded the work myself, it was a fascinating detective story in front of me,” he said. “Those who criticize my work heavily are those who have a huge conflict of interest or those who didn’t read it.

He called critics of his report “dishonest”, and released a document where he sought to rebut their rebuttals point by point.

Still, he admitted to Reuters that he does not have “cast-iron proof”.

“I reviewed the whole situation,” he said. “There are lots of small pieces of evidence.”

Guinness World Records said that it was aware of the report.

“Extensive research is performed for every oldest person record title we verify, which is led by experts in the gerontology field, and they have been notified of the current situation,” it said in a statement distributed by spokeswoman Rachel Gluck.

Prior to his current position, Nick worked as an analyst in the Bank of Russia between 2007 and 2009 and as a glassblower in the department of chemistry, at Moscow State University between 2011 and 2019.

Following are links to news media coverage of Nick’s research investigation:

Watch Nick’s talk About reducing the assessment of the maximum age of a person in Russian.

Watch his video about Jeanne on YouTube and the report on Japanese television called Jeanne san, Yvonne san, Novoselov san, Zak san.

Nikolay spoke at the 2019 Undoing Aging Conference.

Visit his ResearchGate profile. Follow him on Facebook.