About Terry Simpson

Terry Simpson, MD: Cook, Scientist, Author, Surgeon


Dr. Terry Simpson resides in Phoenix and his great passions are cooking, research, writing, surgery, and above all, his son. He received his bachelors, masters, and medical degree from The University of Chicago . He has authored a number of scientific papers, as well as books, and a few blogs. His current area of research involve the hypothesis that teaching patients to cook becomes the ultimate lifestyle change for people – and a bit about diets.

Dr. Simpson, when not doing research – can be found in the operating room where he sees a small, but select group of patients. While he performs weight loss surgery, his first rule for his patients is that they make changes to their lifestyles. ”I spend more time teaching them to cook than I do operating on them. “ He has developed Weight Loss Fest, where his theme is for patients to adopt a better lifestyle by cooking better and more interesting foods. Dr. Simpson also examines diet plans from others with a skeptical, educated eye.

Dr. Simpson is deeply involved in Alaska Native affairs, currently sitting on the board of the Alaska Native Regional Medical Center, and South Central Foundation, a primary care center, where he advocates for better health care for all Alaska Natives. The primary care center they run has won many awards, most recently the Baldridge Award, and is often cited as an example of how primary care centers should be run (during normal hours patients can see a primary care physician within 30 minutes).

Born and raised in Ketchikan, Alaska, the salmon capital of the world (he once hated salmon – -but now loves it, fresh and wild like he enjoys most things), his family goes back 10,000 years, coming to Alaska over the ice bridge on their way to Arizona for the winter. That makes him an Alaska Native (Athabascan variety). His grandfather came to Alaska in the 1890′s and his dad was mostly raised in an orphanage in Seward (wrote a book about those experiences – Jesse Lee Home: My Home by James L Simpson). His dad and mom have been married for over 60 years, and retired to Oregon. Terry’s brother still lives in Alaska – Copper Rail Depot in Copper Center, Alaska (where, like the rest, has authored a book). His mom is a “wizard” in the kitchen – and passed on her love of cooking.

Dr Simpson’s true loves are his wife, April, his son, JJ (born 7-20-2010), and his dog, Lucky.

Food Philosophy

I like fresh. When I hear people talk about “local” I think thank goodness for FedEx and UPS – who have made the idea of local about 5000 miles. Growing up in Alaska local was game, fish, and berries but not a lot else. When you write about food, and become skeptical about diets, or lifestyles, you find all sorts of people questioning the basis of your belief.

If you wear a tin hat (meaning you think I want you to have surgery instead of eat well) read this:

Those with tin-hats will say that since I make a part of my living from doing weight loss surgery that I would oppose a diet that would make people thin. Almost like I am a part of “Big Pharma.” Let me say this: I don’t work for big pharma, or the meat industry, or the dairy industry – I work for the scientific-method. I believe a patient must have a lifestyle change, not just have surgery. Without lifestyle changes weight loss surgery is useless. I spend more time teaching my patients how to cook and make food than I do performing surgery on them.

If you are an animal rights activist then read this:

I do not condone abuse of any animal, in any form. But I do eat meat. I have no issue with an animal giving its life so I can enjoy eating it. I prefer grass fed beef to corn fed beef. Wild salmon much more than farm-raised salmon. You want to send me scary pictures of animals being abused, or films – know that I oppose animal abuse – but animals, as well as plants, have to die in order for me to eat.

If you think you should only eat meat, or only eat vegetables read this:

Humans are flexitarian, not strict carnivore and not vegans. You may follow some guru who only eats meat, or only eats plants- and they may have some anecdotal data about how well they and their followers are doing – but I am not their apostle, and when it comes to research in nutrition, eating, I follow simple and strict evidence based medicine.

But I respect you

I respect those who follow a whole plant diet, as well as my paleo friends. We all have our quirks- but hopefully my view is something you can respect also. I am more than happy to have a debate about any issue in the comment section of my website.

More about his research:

One of Dr. Simpson’s favorite pieces from his early work in molecular engineering was:

Post, L.E., Norrild, B., Simpson, T., and Roizman, B. (1982). Chicken Ovalbumin Gene Fused to a Herpes Simplex Virus Alpha Promoter and Linked to a Thymidine Kinase Gene is Regulated Like a Viral Gene.
     Molecular and Cell Biology, v.2(3), 233-240.

This represented the first time a non-prokaryotic gene was changed and regulated by a viral gene. Dr. Simpson spent many fun years in Dr. Roizman’s laboratory, but discovered he loved people as much as research. Because of being involved in genetic engineering, he has a unique view of genetically modified foods.

He spent a number of years doing vascular surgery- where developing a love for keeping arteries free of disease and found patients who developedan interest in lifestyle changes did much better. This work was inspired when he was a surgeon for the Indian Health Service, and performed vascular surgery among the Pima Indians. While many said these Native Americans didnt have heart disease or vascular disease, Dr. Simpson showed they indeed had it in abundance:

Simpson, T. (1993). Peripheral Vascular Disease Among Native Americans: Pitfalls of the Vascular Examination in Patients with Diabetes.
     The Provider, March.

He still had some fun with trauma surgery – as in this paper where he wanted the name to be changed to something else, but the editors wouldn’t let him.

Phillips BJ; Matthews MR; Caruso DM; Kassir AA; Gregory MW; Simpson T (1998). Tension colothorax: a pleural effusion?
     J Trauma, June, 44(6), 1091-1093.

As vascular surgery and laparoscopic surgery changed Dr. Simpson decided to focus on weight loss surgery, diet interventions, and hoping to help patients avoid vascular issues. He has been the medical editor for Obesity Magazine and now is working on several research projects:

  • Low BMI study- for patients who have a lower BMI but request weight loss surgery
  • Plication study – a new form of weight loss
  • Dietary interventions and weight loss- examining various modular diet plans

He is also working on some bench research, checking levels of appetite hormones in rats, and hopefully people. The hormonal changes of weight loss, and how the weight loss procedures, and diets, alter the changes in hunger hormones.

Mostly he is always looking for new recipes, and trying to pass the love of cooking on to his son.


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