Redesigned Website & Praise for the Book

Dear Reader,                     The Secret Language of Cells

During a several year hiatus from writing new blog posts, I have completed my book, The Secret Language of Cells, which is due to be published this September. It is a synthesis, organization, and update of much of what I have written in my blog posts over the years. 

I will now be starting to write new posts, as well as updating my previous posts with important new findings, as well as those from the past couple years. 

My website Searching for the Mind has been redesigned to be more readable on phones and tablets, as well as computers. The new version contains all of my previously written posts about cellular intelligence, neuroplasticity, microbes, plants, animal intelligence, and other topics. A list of the topics and all previous posts are included on the Blog page. The website now features information about the new book, as well.

Because of the intense interest in COVID-19, my first posts will summarize new information that is coming out about viruses, including how they converse with each other to defend themselves and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their attacks on humans, animals, and bacteria. Readers might remember a post from several years ago that described how viruses use signals among themselves in trying to decide whether to allow particular bacteria to live or die. Recently, many other virus signals have been found, including those used to help each other protect themselves against anti-virus devices within cells, such as CRISPR bacterial defense systems.  I will focus on the newest discoveries about viruses as I begin blogging again, not only their negative aspects, but also how viruses have been vital for human survival.

As I start to blog again, I want to thank the many readers of my website, as well as my friends on Twitter and Facebook, who have been very supportive over the years in championing the ideas from my blog. In particular, I want to thank those who contributed endorsements to my original book proposal.

Praise for the New Book

The Secret Language of Cells has already received glowing endorsements from multiple physicians, scientists, university professors, and authors. 

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“The Secret Language of Cells takes us on an exciting journey into a world where we can visualize elaborate conversations among immune cells, brain cells, gut cells, bacteria, and even viruses. Dr. Lieff gives a wealth of examples for his thesis that this cellular signaling is the basis of life. It is a must read for anyone seeking to understand modern biology and advanced medical science. It is equally important for those of us who wonder, as I do, how this ubiquitous information transfer in the form of cellular conversations might be related to the emergence of intelligence and consciousness.”

—Ray Kurzweil, inventor, author and futurist


“The Secret Language of Cells explains the complex ways that cells in the body communicate and presents a new paradigm for understanding health and disease. It also suggests new possibilities for treatment and for promoting healing. I’m pleased that my former Harvard colleague, Jon Lieff, has written this important book.”

Andrew Weil, MD, director of the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine, professor at University of Arizona College of Medicine, and author


“Through a brilliant synthesis of cellular biology, microbiology, immunology, and neuroscience, The Secret Language of Cells offers a lucid explanation of the marvelous intricacies of cellular life. The result is a masterful exploration of the profound implications of cellular intelligence for understanding pathophysiology, human health, and even our origins.”

William B. Miller, Jr., MD, physician, biologist, author of The Microcosm Within: Evolution and Extinction in the Hologenome, and internationally recognized expert on Cognition-Based Evolution


“Jon Lieff’s description of cellular communication is insightful, provocative, illuminating, and engaging and provides deep and novel observations into the remarkable symphony of how life happens. Mimicking the cellular world he describes, Dr. Lieff is the great communicator and muse of living things. An inspiring and informative read.”

—Ted Kaptchuk, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School


“This journey into the dynamic realm of cellular conversations is a tour-de-force—fascinating, vital, and especially timely for understanding emerging viruses. As we learn about intelligence in smaller and smaller animals, it’s not surprising that the tiniest creatures—microbes and even viruses— exhibit elaborate communication and complex decision making. Read The Secret Language of Cells!” 

Marc Bekoff, PhD, professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder and author of Canine Confidential: Why Dogs Do What They Do


“As a storyteller, my imagination is sparked by the insights Dr. Lieff brings to our innermost world and the mysteries at the edge of our understanding.The Secret Language of Cells reveals how the micro world reflects the macro, alive with heroes and villains, shapeshifters and tricksters, vigilant guards and gullible bystanders, helpers that commit suicide for the common good and warriors that seize the day or collapse from exhaustion. Lieff’s fascinating exploration inspires awe for the astonishing dialogues and clarion calls at the heart of the intelligence within.”

—Antonia Felix, EdD, MFA, New York Times bestselling author


The Secret Language of Cells is ideal for the education of medical and science students, as well as for practicing physicians. Dr. Lieff’s remarkable synthesis of the scientific literature provides a current view of the intricate communication systems determining our physiology. He clearly explains how conversations among cells are the bridge between immunology, neuroscience, microbiology, and cancer research. Detailed Endnotes provide an avenue for further study, either on one’s own or as part of a formal course.”

—Sharon Redd, MD, senior associate in anesthesia at Boston Children’s Hospital and assistant professor in anesthesia at Harvard Medical School 


“Calling all physicians, microbiologists, medical students, and fellow science enthusiasts—you’re going to love The Secret Language of Cells! This book reveals fascinating ongoing conversations between cells, bacteria, and viral particles that provide the basis for understanding growth, development, healthy biology, and pathology. Perhaps more importantly, they provide the blueprint for novel interventions, treatments, and cures for ailments ranging from chronic inflammatory diseases, to cancers and even viral infections. The COVID-19 pandemic has focused the world’s lens on the world of microbes like never before. Read this book and join the conversation.”

—Jill Grimes, MD, family physician, speaker, author & educator


“By focusing on the very small, with this landmark publication, Jonathan Lieff has reached new heights! When his career began, almost half a century ago, he displayed superior communication skills in interactions with his patients and their families, fellow physicians, and staff. Further, three decades ago, in his leadership role, he played a central role in establishing a professional journal and catalyzing communication about the latest scientific, clinical, and educational developments to professionals, patients, caregivers, and policy makers. At that time, he also was the first physician I knew who was communicating via a computer, well before most of us even had a computer. He then was one of the very first to understand and utilize telemedicine to enhance communication to legions of people in need who lacked accessibility to needed health care. In The Secret Language of Cells, Dr. Lieff, brilliantly and effectively, communicates the complexities of modern biology to clinicians, and even laypeople, in understandable terms. In the process, he elucidates how communications between diverse varieties of cells determine our physical, mental, and emotional health, as well as the potential social implications. With this book, Dr. Lieff provides us a way to appreciate a whole new way of looking at ‘intelligence’ and ‘life.’”

—Sanford Finkel MD, founder of AAGP, co-founder of IPA and APA Council on Aging, clinical professor of Psychiatry at University of Chicago Medical School


“Dr. Jon Lieff’s The Secret Language of Cells is a tour-de-force. In this detailed, yet easy-to-comprehend text, Dr Lieff has shared with us an insider’s vantage point toward understanding why and how ‘all life’s activity occurs because of conversations among cells.’ I found particularly compelling his insights into why and how the gut microbiota, using intercellular communication with brain cells, may impact vital brain functions and may contribute to the pathogenesis of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. I highly recommend this fascinating book to science readers and anyone wanting to better understand the role and importance of cellular functions and communications in health and disease.”

George T. Grossberg MD, director of Geriatric Psychiatry for the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Neuroscience, Saint Louis University School of Medicine


“Dr. Lieff has synthesized an extensive literature on the biological communications that underlie life into a highly accessible book. His integrative summary will appeal to a broad audience, from high school biology students to professionals with specific areas of expertise. The lists of references that follow each chapter offer relevant peer-reviewed articles for those wishing to more deeply explore specific questions. Dr. Lieff’s central thesis is that information transfers between an organism’s biological components are both ubiquitous and essential. Constant communications between various cellular structures and between the cells of the same and different organ systems are presented as critical to biological functioning. The Secret Language of Cells describes these processes with wit and insight. Dr. Lieff emphasizes the essential roles of time and timing in facilitating biological communication. The evidence provided in his book gives background as to why the current level of human functioning required billions of years of evolutionary trial and error to optimize information sharing. From a psychiatrist’s perspective, the discussion of whether a control center for information integration, storage and distribution exists and how control might be managed is intriguing. While Dr. Lieff acknowledges that many of these questions remain unanswered, he articulates the basic issues. Future research and more books like this one will allow sentient beings to better appreciate the wondrous impact of our underlying biological communications and how these influence our thought processes and personalities.”

Barnett Meyers, MD, professor emeritus at Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University


“Jon Lieff’s The Secret Language of Cells is very informative and highly original. As a philosopher trained in Hindu and Buddhist traditions, I find Lieff’s work having deep philosophical ramifications. The Secret Language of Cells makes it possible for a healthy dialogue between biology and philosophy, a step closer to making a bridge between life-science and various monistic and non-dual philosophies.”

Dr. Sthaneshwar Timalsina, professor for the Department of Religious Studies at San Diego State University


“Lieff, a medical doctor and first-time author, eavesdrops on the myriad “conversations” that occur between body and brain in this cutting-edge overview of how cells and microbes communicate. Showing that cellular communication (or miscommunication) has a profound effect on mental and physical health, as well as on medical treatments such as immunotherapy, Lieff gives no-nonsense descriptions of how the human body’s specialized cells, along with 80 billion neurons, nanotubes (“string-like tunnels” that link cells together), membranes, and cilia (cellular “hairlike appendages”) perform the physical exchanges and electrochemical signaling needed for cells to “keep up chatter.” Reviewing recent discoveries, he explains how mitochondria respond to the changing energy demands of neurons, how neutrophils (white blood cell “first responders”) message for backups and oversee other cells while fighting infection, and how immune, brain, and gut cells engage in decision-making when coming into contact with viruses and microbes, and how this sometimes leads—as in the case of the virus that causes Covid-19—to them being outsmarted. Lieff’s overview of cellular communication will fascinate those interested in new frontiers of neuroscience.”

—Publisher’s Weekly