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Neil D. Theise

Physician-scientist, anatomist, and philosopher

Neil Theise is a physician-scientist, anatomist, and philosopher. He is Professor of Pathology at New York University School of Medicine and attending physician at NYU Langone Health. Theise is considered a global thought leader, and has extended his work to areas of theoretical biology, defining a “post-modern biology.” As an adult stem cell researcher, his series of discoveries became the subject of George W. Bush’s famous stem cell address. In 2018, Theise’s novel detailing of the anatomy of the 80th human organ, the interstitium, has an estimated 3.8 billion views of his team’s findings, and was featured in The New York Times, Scientific American, NPR, and The Late Late Show with James Corden among hundreds of other outlets. Most recently, he is the lead author on a paper investigating an anti-viral treatment for COVID-19, which is now entering clinical trials. Theise is also a senior student of Zen Buddhism at the Village Zendo. He lives in New York City with his husband, Mark. Stirring complexity theory into this mix, he has extended his work to areas of theoretical biology and more fundamental questions regarding the underlying structure of the universe. In terms of biology, these ideas suggest that alternate models of the body, other than classical ('Western') cell doctrine, may be necessary to understand non-Western approaches to the body and health. Moreover, he models the universe as a holarchy of self-organizing complex systems from the quantum vacuum on up through all levels of scale: a view that points to consciousness as the fundamental ground of being of existence and a panpsychist perspective. His work with physicist Menas Kafatos points to three fundamental principles underlying the self-organizing universe: complementarity, sentience (or 'creative interactivity'), and recursion, evident in different forms at every level of scale. These features map directly to insights regarding the nature of reality from contemplative practices and philosophical inquiry from diverse cultures and spiritual perspectives.

Dr. Theise is also a senior student of Zen Buddhism at the Village Zendo, New York City, under the guidance of Roshi Enkyo O'hara.

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