Jeff Schmitt, PhD – Folk Healer, Tabaquero, Ceremonialist & Scientist – enjoys a rich life filled with community, science, music, art, and family. A walker-between-worlds, Jeff is an enthusiastic advocate for indigenous healing and wisdom traditions. As both a noted scientist and practitioner of Peruvian Folk medicine, he seeks to build bridges of understanding. Jeff is a challenging and evocative speaker/storyteller; in 2011 he presented the first TEDx talk on Ayahuasca – inspired by his life-changing sojourn with the Secoya people of the Northern Amazon rainforest.
He did his undergraduate work at Wake Forest University followed by graduate work at the University of Bath and Oxford University (doctorate in Molecular Biophysics). Jeff holds adjunct professorships at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Biochemistry, Physiology-Pharmacology. Until recently he was the Director of Research for the Center for Integrative Medicine at Wake Forest. He is a founding member of numerous companies including Targacept, Inc. where he led the development of simulation technology to make the process of drug discovery more efficient. Jeff has published over 100 peer-reviewed publications, patents and abstracts, and been on the editorial advisory boards of 6 international journals. He is the founding research director of the Bent Creek Institute of the University of North Carolina. Jeff founded and directed the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative at Wake Forest School of Medicine (now Wake forest Innovations). He also devotes his time to organizations serving the greater good and has been a board member of 5 non-profit organizations. He is also a Chinese martial Arts expert.
Despite a rich career in the life sciences, Jeff has over the years collaborated with numerous American and European artists, including ex-King Crimson drummer Michael Giles, LA sound artist Rhan Small, rap artist and spoken-word poet Cactus and members of Medeski, Martin and Wood. A stint with metal sculpture led to Jeff winning the Savannah College of Art ‘Savannah 3D’ invitational in 1986. Jeff and his musical collaborators composed music for the Aban Elved dance company 1994-2005, leading to collaborations in England, USA and Germany. Jeff is also a founding member of the Wheel Theater Company led by Juilliard and Moscow Art Theater artist Felix Ivanov. Finally, while in Europe, Jeff was a founding member of the Bio*Art collaborative, a group of philosophers, scientists and artists working together to foster an esthetic appreciation of scientific discovery. Their work led to a Royal Society exhibition as well as the first musical compositions based on the 3-dimensional structure of proteins. He is a founding member of Kurt Johnson’s Eco-Ministry movement and received his ordination from the Order of the Universal Interfaith.
Jeff enthusiastically works with clients using sacred healing and counseling methods; one of his greatest joys is bringing people together in sacred community to facilitate personal and planetary healing. Jeff has enjoyed a decades-long relationship with the sacred healing plant tobacco; for many years Jeff studied the neuroprotective properties of compounds found in tobacco and helped start a company to fight diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s based on this research. Over the years his relationship has shifted to working with tobacco as a teacher and catalyst for sacred healing, and as a consequence was given the title “Tabaquero” or one who heals with tobacco.
Deep gratitude to all of the spiritual and healing-arts teachers with whom I have had the privilege to study: Donna Ormond, MS (Philosophy, Ethics, Existentialism, Systems Theory); Professor Bob Wykle (Natural Philosophy, Philosophy of Science, Biomedical Research); Beatrice Bruteau, PhD (Philosophy, Mysiticsm, Philosophy of Science); Sifu Michael Andron (Kempo martial arts, Judaism, Kabbalah, healing arts); Felix Ivanov (movement arts, experimental and folk theatre, Shaolin Kung Fu, Siberian Shamanism), Grandmaster Doc Fai Wong (Choy Li Fut King Fu); Alan Rayner, PhD (Philosophy of Science); don Oscar Miro-Quesada (Healing arts, Pachakuti Mesa, South American Shamanism and Kamasqua Curanderismo); don Jason Blaesing (Healing arts, Pachakuti Mesa Shamanism and Kamasqua Curanderismo); Marna Whaleheart Young (Andean Nature Mysticism and healing), Vamadeva David Frawley, Vedic teachings and ceremony and finally my Beloved adopted Grandmother Redleaf to whom I offer an infinite depth of gratitude for her wise council this past decade; you are missed my beloved teacher and friend.
I have been blessed to study with and take numerous pilgrimages to the sacred Mountains of Peru and Bolivia with don Mariano Quispe Flores, don Abraham “Alberto” Fernandez, don Victor Chura Quispe and don Raimundo Quispe Flores.
I have been granted permission by my elder teachers to practice and teach the ways of Curenderismo, Andean Nature Mysticism and martial arts. Regarding traditional and indigenous systems, my creed is to not teach or practice anything for which I have not been granted permission.
Deep appreciation for the inspiration, support and learning from friends, family and the Asheville Community: David McConville, PhD (Systems Theory, Philosophy of Science, Worldviews); the cadre of superb teachers at West Asheville Yoga (Yoga, Vedic and Vedantic Philosophy); Agent23 “Cactus” (music, poetry, asking good questions); Matt and Heather Kabat (Philosophy, Education, Internal Martial Arts); Dr. Brian Lewis (Tibetan Buddhism, Mystery Schools); Cindy Bergh, DC, Ellen Kitteridge, Jen Worthen, Jeff Scott and so many others in the wonderful Asheville community; and to my students.
Full CV available on request