Higher Synthesis


The present medical system focuses on two things: specialization, and treating symptoms.  We see both of these as “reductionistic.”  

Regarding specialists, of course we need people who drill down deeply into the nuances of things requiring precision — like brain surgery, radiology, etc.  But the practitioners who put the pieces together — and the kinds of effort that integration requires —  have become stepchildren. 

Regarding symptoms, we look at them as endpoints of problems in the underlying systems and networks that run everything in our bodies and brains, and generate the experiences we call “mind.”  

We are part of an emerging world of health care providers who ground ourselves in upgrading the whole system, so that the symptoms subside.
This approach guides everything we do.






Our culture and schooling teach us to see things in little parts.  We learn very little about putting things into context.  We are taught to assume that tending to little pieces will add up to larger wholes that work.  This approach is called Reductionism.

But reductionism is not working — not for our health, and not for the health of our planet.

We take a whole-systems approach, to body, brain, mind and environment.  We use the name “Higher Synthesis” because putting the little pieces into context creates a “Higher Synthesis” where the whole — the new whole — is greater than the sum of its parts.

We also know from experience that creating “higher syntheses” can lead to systems transformation — body, mind, health, spirit and more..






We are committed to science.  We label our approach to science “Higher Synthesis Science” because we think in systems and aim to put the pieces together. At present this work has two parts:

Data Capture Project: Higher Synthesis Health is part of a collection of health care and educational practitioners developing rigorous methods for capturing and pooling data to track and evaluate complex, dynamic, individualized treatment and learning strategies.

Sensitive Measures Project: We aim to bring together measures across disciplines that are sensitive to the various dimensions of the challenges we and our colleagues address, and the changes and transformations we create.






The Higher Synthesis Foundation’s mission is to inspire, support, coordinate, and perform research about successful approaches to complex health and environmental problems, look for common features leading to successful outcomes, and disseminate these findings and analyses through the internet, media, books and scientific publications.  By doing this work we aim to raise our skills and spirits high enough to transform the way we live in this time of crisis.

The rationale for this work in relation to Higher Synthesis Health is to put this clinic’s work in the larger context of other systems-grounded efforts to get our health,, food and planet back on track.






The mission of the TRANSCEND Research Program is to map and document the biological brain bases of neurodevelopmental disorders in general, and autism spectrum disorder in particular. The TRANSCEND Research Program strives to advance knowledge of the underlying neurobiology and systems biology, with the hope of ultimately understanding the impacted individuals as well as their disorders better, and contributing towards the development of better targeted therapies and treatments.

In 2006, Dr. Herbert, founder and director of Higher Synthesis Health,  founded the TRANSCEND Research Program at the Massachusetts General Hospital, in the Neurology Department of Harvard Medical School, along with collaborators Dr. Tal Kenet and Dr. Katherine Martien.  TRANSCEND is an acronym, standing for Treatment Research And NeuroSCience Evaluation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders.  We built a multidisciplinary, multi-method collaborative research platform to facilitate a more comprehensive and integrated approach to research in our field.

TRANSCEND is also a verb, meaning “to climb, to surmount, to exist above and independent of, to be transcendent, to excel.” Its meaning overlaps greatly with “Higher Synthesis.”

TRANSCEND is still an active research program, recruiting study participants for brain studies, and working on analyses on data from its “multisystem evaluation of infants at high risk for autism” study.






As we grow, we aim to increase our bandwidth for clinical and clinical research collaborations.