About Us



The Company

Cognate Nutritionals, Inc. has pioneered the design and development of innovative nutritional products — functional Coconut Oil based beverages benefiting both brain and body.

The company’s founders include Theodore B. VanItallie, M.D., and his colleagues in nutrition and food science research. For over 30 years, Cognate’s founders and associates have been highly regarded leaders in the fields of clinical nutrition research, food science, and food engineering.

The company’s line of innovative products includes Fuel For Thought®. This delicious and convenient liquid formulation of organic non gmo virgin coconut oil is vastly superior to the coconut oil supplements currently available in the marketplace. In addition to expansions of its Fuel For Thought® product line, future new product releases from Cognate Nutritionals will advance the company’s mission to target the public’s growing concerns with memory retention, focus, clarity and energy.

A Word from Cecilia

ceciliaLet Food Be Thy MedicineHippocrates

Since the 1960s, physicians and scientists, including our founder, Dr. Theodore VanItallie, have conducted research on dietary fats, ketones, and their physiological effects on the human brain. The first product resulting from this research is Fuel For Thought®, a remarkable advance in coconut oil-based products — coconut oil has been associated with improved cognitive function due to its high concentration of MCTs. This delicious coconut drink reflects our belief at Cognate Nutritionals that nature is an abundant source of healthy foods that can be both enjoyable and beneficial to mankind. Today, there are literally hundreds of accounts by individuals attesting to the fact that consumption of coconut oil and MCTs (which raise the body’s ketone levels) has resulted in their improved cognitive health. Many others report they simply feel better and more energetic as a result of adding coconut oil to their diets. Now, thanks to Fuel For Thought®, we’ve made it truly delicious and significantly easier to consume sufficient quantities of coconut oil and MCTs that are effective and appropriate for you!


The Cognate Nutritionals mission is “To design and develop nutritionally advanced functional products that promote optimal health for consumers. At Cognate Nutritionals, our mission is creating new paths and new options for healthier living.


Cognate Nutritionals is operated by a highly dedicated team of knowledgeable men and women from the fields of science, medicine, and business.

robertRobert A. Firger, J.D.

President, CEO and Chair of the Board of Directors

Robert A. Firger, J.D., CEO, has been a corporate and commercial attorney for over thirty years. Prior to the practice of law, Mr. Firger was a research fellow and associate at Harvard School of Public Health and an instructor in bio-personality at Harvard College. He has been involved in early stage venture capital for over twenty-five years, founded a venture investment firm in the Americas, and has been affiliated with new companies, ventures and incubators in areas ranging from biotechnology to sustainable power generation. He has been senior counsel to a major regional financial institution and serves on a number of venture and not-for-profit boards.

Bob can be reached at: rfirger@cognatenutritionals.com

ceciliaCecilia M. Calhoun

Chief Marketing Officer, Customer Relations

Ms. Calhoun brings her thirty years of marketing, design and communications experience to her CMO position at Cognate Nutritionals, where she oversees brand and consumer strategies and customer relations. She spent many years in advertising, beginning as a designer and subsequently Creative Director for several agencies including a major national direct response marketing firm. Her award winning designs for consumer goods and business-to-business campaigns include Citibank, American Express and Lego. She later established and operated her own design consulting firm for fifteen years prior to joining Cognate.

Cecilia can be reached at: ccalhoun@cognatenutritionals.com

Peter-DragonePeter Dragone, MBA

Chief Financial Officer

Mr. Dragone, a seasoned entrepreneur, has over 30 years experience working with startups, assisting in their planning and fundraising, primarily in the CPG and industrial service sectors. He held a senior operational role at Chiquita Brands International and then became co-founder of Keurig, Inc., now a multi- billion dollar subsidiary of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. He serves on the board of directors of EOM Offshore LLC and is a corporate member of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Prior to joining Cognate, Mr. Dragone was a principal of DKH Business Advisors, where he was instrumental in the launch of many new companies.

Peter can be reached at pdragone@cognatenutritionals.com

Bonnie HenryBonnie Henry, MBA

Board Member

Ms. Henry has over 25 years of entrepreneurial and leadership experience in multiple industries, with 13 years of P&L responsibility. She has helped launch new ventures both internally and externally working with large and early-stage companies including: Frito-Lay, Pillsbury, Estée Lauder, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Massachusetts, and Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital. She was the co-founder of Hellas International, Inc. which she successfully sold in 2004. She serves on the boards of several health and wellness companies and advises early-stage companies on growth strategies. She is the managing member of DKH Business Advisors.

Scientific Advisory Board

Cognate Nutritionals is honored to be advised by some of the most esteemed names in the field of nutritional health.

Dr. Theodore Van Itallie, coconut oil, Fuel for Thought, Cognate NutritionalsTheodore VanItallie, M.D.

Founder, Board Member and Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board

Cognate’s co-founder and medical director, Theodore B. VanItallie, MD, FACP, is an internationally recognized expert in the fields of clinical nutrition and metabolism. For many years, he served as director of medicine at St. Luke’s Hospital Center in New York City, where he founded and directed America’s first NIH-sponsored Obesity Research Center.

Dr. VanItallie is a professor emeritus of medicine at Columbia University’s College of Physicians & Surgeons. He has served on national councils and committees of the National Academy of Sciences, National Institutes of Health, DHHS, and USDA. His awards for contributions to medical education and research include those from the American College of Physicians, the Food and Drug Administration, the American Medical Association, the North American Society for the Study of Obesity, the American Society for Clinical Nutrition and the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior.

dominicsm (1)Dominic D’Agostino, Ph.D.

Member of the Scientific Advisory Board

Dr. D’Agostino is an assistant professor at the University Of South Florida Morsani College Of Medicine and the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology. His research interests are in neuropharmacology, medical biochemistry, cell metabolism, and signaling. Dr. D’Agostino is an investigator in neuroscience, molecular pharmacology, and physiology with special focus on oxygen toxicity, ketogenic diets, and neuroprotective strategies applicable to metabolic disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, epilepsy, brain cancer and metastatic cancer. He is a pioneering developer of ketone esters and ketone salts and pursues his work on behalf of a number of government research institutes as well as private organizations, including Cognate Nutritionals.

hashim_sami_2568 (1)Sami A. Hashim, M.D.

Member of the Scientific Advisory Board

Dr. Hashim has served St. Luke’s and Roosevelt Hospitals, New York, for 40 years with distinction in the field of metabolism and nutrition. Formerly the long-time chief of the Division of Metabolism, Dr. Hashim currently serves as a senior attending physician in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism. He is also a professor of Nutritional Medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. As a tireless researcher, he has published more than 200 papers and articles in peer-reviewed journals and is an internationally recognized expert in the fields of metabolism and nutrition. Dr. Hashim has pioneered the development of advanced ketone esters and consults with Cognate on its potential in both future research and product implementation.

Schaefer2sm (1)Ernst J. Schaefer, M.D.

Member of the Scientific Advisory Board

Dr. Schaefer is a distinguished professor at Tufts University School of Medicine and Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, and the director and senior scientist, Lipid Metabolism Laboratory, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. Dr. Schaefer is an invaluable advisor to Cognate on lipids research and is involved with the basic studies underlying the scientific principles of Cognate’s functional food products.

Dr. Schaefer is an author or co-author of over 500 publications and served on the first and second adult treatment panels of the National Cholesterol Education Program of the National Institutes of Health, on the Nutrition Study Section, the Metabolism Study Section, and the Clinical Research Study Sections of the NIH, and the Nutrition Committee of the American Heart Association.

Dr. Mary T. Newport, coconut oil, Fuel For Thought, cognate nutritionals, Alzheimer's Disease,Mary T. Newport, M.D.

Member of the Scientific Advisory Board

Mary T. Newport, M.D. attended Xavier University and University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. She trained in Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, OH, and in Neonatology at Medical University Hospital in Charleston, SC. She has practiced neonatology in Florida since 1983 and was founding medical director for two newborn intensive care units in the Tampa Bay area. Dr. Newport is the author of the book, “Alzheimer’s Disease: What If There Was a Cure? The Story of Ketones,” published in 2011 and now in its second edition. The book describes her personal research into ketones, which may benefit persons with Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. Dr. Newport’s husband, Steve Newport, has Alzheimer’s disease. Her deeply personal knowledge of the science of ketones has been disseminated worldwide through articles, lectures, and appearances on television and radio. She advises Cognate on a variety of matters relating to its Fuel For Thought® products.


American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine

The Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine is dedicated to the advancement of technology to detect, prevent, and treat aging-related disease and to promote research into methods to retard and optimize the human aging process.

Affiliate Program

Our affiliate program is under development. Please check back soon for more information. If you are interested in participating in our affiliate program please email our president, Robert Firger, rfirger@cognatenutritionals.com with your contact information.


Interested in putting Fuel For Thought® on your shelves or helping us grow our distribution network? To inquire about our wholesale pricing, volume discounts and distributor requirements, send us an email today.