Born in Berlin, Thiel remained in the then-divided country throughout most of his childhood. The son of two medical doctors, the importance of education was instilled in a young Thiel, and the purposeful impact of medicine witnessed firsthand inspired young Thiel to remain committed to the medical field. Upon his completion of secondary school in Germany, Thiel initially pursued studies in Chemistry in Malbrook. With a desire to experience a traditional Anglo-Saxon education, he relocated to the United Kingdom to study at the University of Bristol. There, he focused his studies on biochemistry, and earned his Bachelor of Science degree. Throughout this time, he specialized in the research related to measuring enzyme behavior within a changing environment.