Neil Theise is a physician-scientist and Professor of Pathology at NYU Grossman School of Medicine in NYC who attended TMSC from fourth grade through high school (1968-77). When asked to think about his experiences during that time, he has fond memories of his time on the mountain. "TMSC was my nerdy kid happy place, where I could fully be myself, hanging out with other kids who had the same quirky interests and, most importantly, with teachers (Mr. Atamian!!! Mr. Donaldson!!!) who made me believe that, literally, the sky was the limit. They taught me that I didn't have to aspire to become a scientist, I was a scientist already, in how my curiosity drove me to search for answers. And the training to hone those scientific instincts began with my midnight watches in the observatory on the mountain.
As an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, Theise was in a dual degree program for a BA in Jewish studies (another passion) and a Bachelor of Applied Science in computer science. He then went to Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons, and received his MD in 1986. He then specialized in anatomic pathology and further subspecialized in liver pathology - diagnosing diseases of the liver in biopsy and resection specimens by examining them under the microscope and doing clinical and basic research in human liver disease pathways. "My early research focused on how liver cancer happens in humans in work that led to the current standard of care for screening for early liver cancer in people with chronic liver disease," he says. "Other areas for which I have been a thought leader include regression of scarring in the liver now that hepatitis viruses can be successfully treated, identification of liver stem cells, adult stem cell plasticity, and complexity theory applications to biology, physics, and consciousness studies. "
Most recently, Theise's group's redefinition of the human interstitium as a possibly new organ went "viral", garnering an estimated 3.8 billion viewers in 2018. Those research efforts continue, defining the interstitium as a newly recognized electrical, mechanical, molecular, and cellular signaling network throughout the body. Theise is frequently invited as a Keynote speaker or Visiting Professor at academic institutions and conferences around the world. In addition, he has written chapters in all the major medical textbooks having to do with liver pathology, and published over 200 academic papers in medicine, complexity theory, and philosophy. In 2010, he was granted an Honorary Doctorate at the University of Bordeaux, and in the Spring of 2023, Spiegel and Grau will be publishing a book for a general audience called "Notes on Complexity" in which Theise explores the universe as a complex, self-organizing system, along with implications for science and spirituality.