The Secret Language of Cells

“A must-read for anyone seeking to understand modern biology and advanced medical science.” – Ray Kurzweil

“A new paradigm for understanding health and disease.”– Andrew Weil, MD


The Secret Language of Cells


Your cells are talking about you.

Right now, both your inner and outer worlds are abuzz with chatter among living cells of every possible kind—from those in your body and brain to those in the environment around you. From electrical alerts to chemical codes, the greatest secret of modern biology, hiding in plain sight, is that all of life’s activity boils down to one thing: communication. 

In The Secret Language of Cells, physician and neuroscientist Jon Lieff lets us listen in on these conversations and reveals their significance for everything from mental health to cancer. He explains the surprising science of how very different cells—bacteria and brain cells, blood cells and viruses—all speak the same language. This overarching principle has been long overlooked because scientific journals use impenetrable jargon that is difficult to understand across disciplines, much less by the general public.

Dr. Lieff presents a fascinating and accessible look into cellular communication science—a groundbreaking and comprehensive exploration of this biological phenomenon. During infections, immune T cells tell brain cells that we should “feel sick” and lie down. Cancer cells warn their community about immune and microbe attacks. Gut cells talk with microbes to determine which are friends and which are enemies, and microbes talk with each other and with much more complicated human cells in ways that determine which medicines work and which will fail. 

With applications for immunity, chronic pain, weight loss, depression, cancer treatment, and virtually every aspect of health and biology, the scientific findings about cellular communication revealed in this book are revolutionizing our understanding not just of disease, but of life itself. The Secret Language of Cells is required reading for anyone interested in following the conversation. 

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Praise for The Secret Language of Cells:

“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

“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 COVID19 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, and educator