Clinical Research on Meditation & Physical Health Group Discussion

Clinical Research on Meditation & Physical Health Group Discussion


As scientific research establishes that many “physical diseases” are modulated by psychological processes such as stressful life events and emotions, the mechanisms underlying these interactions have been targets for scientific research. As the mechanisms become more well­ understood, the rationale for using meditation as an intervention for certain types of physical illnesses becomes more compelling and more solidly grounded in modern scientific research.

This session will showcase modern research on the application of meditation-based interventions to cardiovascular disease and to diseases that include a primary immune component.

  • Dialogue 13
    16 sessions
  • November 9, 2005
    Dar Constitution Hall, Washington, DC
  • share


B. Alan Wallace

B. Alan Wallace is president of The Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies. He trained for many years as a monk in Buddhist monasteries in India and Switzerland. He has taught Buddhist theory and practice in Europe and America since 1976 and has served as interpreter for numerous Tibetan scholars and contemplatives, including H. H. the Dalai Lama. After graduating summa cum laude from Amherst College, where he studied physics and the ahilosophy of science, he earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in religious Studies at Stanford University. He has edited, translated, 13 authored, and contributed to more than thirty books on Tibetan Buddhism, medicine, language, and culture, and the interface between science and religion.

David Sheps

David S. Sheps received his M.D. from the University of North Carolina (1969), completed his residency in the Department of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital (1972) and completed a fellowship in cardiology at Yale University School of Medicine (1974). He has an MSPH in Epidemiology from the University of North Carolina (1988). Dr. Sheps is Professor and Associate Chair in the Division of Cardiology at the University of Florida College of Medicine and is a staff cardiologist at the Gainesville VA Medical 11 Center. He is Director of Nuclear Cardiology at the University of Florida. Effective January 2002, Dr. Sheps was recognized for his accomplishments in behavioral medicine by being appointed as Editor-in-Chief of the Psychosomatic Medicine Journal. Dr. Sheps is a well-recognized expert in the field of the effects of psychological stress in patients with coronary artery disease and mental stress ischemia and has a strong track record of publications and grants in this area.

Esther Sternberg

Esther M. Sternberg received her M.D. and Rheumatology training at McGill University, Montreal, Canada, and was on the faculty at Washington University, St. Louis, MO, before joining the National Institutes Health in 1986. Currently Chief of the Section on P Neuroendocrine Immunology and Behavior at the National Institute of Mental Health, Dr. Chair of the NIH Intramural Program on Research in Women's Health. Dr. Sternberg is internationally recognized for her discoveries in brain-immune interactions and the brain's stress response in diseases including arthritis: the science of the mind-body interaction.

His Holiness The Dalai Lama

Tenzin Gyatso, the14th Dalai Lama, is the leader of Tibetan Buddhism and a spiritual leader revered worldwide. He was born on July 6, 1935, in a small village called Taktser in northeastern Tibet. Born to a peasant family, he was recognized at the age of two, in accordance with Tibetan tradition, as the reincarnation of his predecessor, the 13th Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lamas are manifestations of the Buddha of Compassion, who choose to reincarnate for the purpose of serving human beings. Winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1989, he is universally respected as a spokesman for the compassionate and peaceful resolution of human conflict. He has traveled extensively, speaking on subjects including universal responsibility, love, compassion and kindness. Less well known is his intense personal interest in the sciences; he has said that if he were not a monk, he would have liked to be an engineer. As a youth in Lhasa it was he who was called on to fix broken machinery in the Potala Palace, be it a clock or a car. He has a vigorous interest in learning the newest developments in science, and brings to bear both a voice for the humanistic implications of the findings, and a high degree of intuitive methodological sophistication.

Jan Chozen Bays

Jan Chozen Bays is a pediatrician specializing in the evaluation of children for possible abuse and neglect. After graduating from Swarthmore College she received medical training at U.C. San Diego. For ten years she served as medical director of the Child Abuse Response and Assessment Center(CARES NW) at Legacy Children's Hospital in Portland, Oregon where over 1,000 children and families are seen each year for concerns of abuse and neglect. She has written a number of articles for medical journals and also book chapters on aspects of child abuse including substance abuse and child abuse, child abuse by poisoning, and conditions mistaken for child abuse. Jan Chozen Bays has studied and practiced Zen Buddhism since 1973. She was ordained as a Zen priest underTaizan Maezumi Roshi and given authorization to teach in 1983. With her husband, Hogen Bays, she teaches at Zen Community of Oregon and Great Vow Zen Monastery, a residential center for intensive Zen training in Clatskanie, Oregon.

Joan Halifax

Roshi Joan Halifax, PhD, is a Buddhist teacher, Zen priest, anthropologist, and pioneer in the field of end-of-life care. Founder, abbot, and head teacher of Upaya Institute and Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, she received her PhD in medical anthropology in1973 while teaching at the University of Miami Medical School. She has been awarded a National Science Foundation fellowship in visual anthropology and an honorary research fellowship in medical ethnobotany at Harvard University, and was named a distinguished visiting scholar at the Library of Congress. From 1972–1975, she worked with psychiatrist Stanislav Grof at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center with dying cancer patients. She has continued to work with dying people and their families, and she teaches healthcare professionals and family caregivers about the psychosocial, ethical, and spiritual aspects of caring for the dying. She is director of the Project on Being with Dying, and founder and director of the Upaya Prison Project, which has developed programs on meditation for prisoners. She studied with Zen teacher Seung Sahn, received the Lamp Transmission from Thich Nhat Hanh, and was given Inka by Roshi Bernie Glassman. A founding teacher of the Zen Peacemaker Order, her work and practice for more than four decades has focused on applied Buddhism.

John Sheridan

John F. Sheridan is Professor of Immunology and Director of the Comprehensive Training in Oral and Craniofacial Biology program. He holds the George C. Paffenbarger Alumni Endowed Research Chair, and is the Associate Director of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at the Ohio State University. He received a B.S. degree from Fordham University, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the Waksman Institute of Microbiology at Rutgers University. He did postdoctoral training in microbiology/immunology at the Duke University Medical Center and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He is a founding member and past president of the Psychoneuroimmunology Research Society. His major research interests include neuroendocrine regulation of gene expression in inflammatory and immune responses, stress-induced susceptibility to infectious disease, viral pathogenesis and host immunity. He is a member of numerous national and international academies, including the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. He served as President of the European Neuroscience Association, as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Max Planck Society, and as member of numerous Advisory Boards of scientific organizations and editorial boards of journals. 

Margaret Kemeny

Margaret E. Kemeny s Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Health Psychology Program at the University of California San Francisco. After spending her undergraduate years at UC Berkeley, she received her Ph.D. in health psychology from UCSF and completed a four-year post-doctoral fellowship in immunology at UCLA. Dr. Kemeny's research has focused on identifying the links between psychological factors, the immune system and health and illness. She has made important contributions to our understanding of the ways in which the mind - one's thoughts and feelings - shapes biological responses to stress and trauma. Over the past 20 years, she has examined the effects of psychological factors on physiology and disease, particularly HIV infection and inflammation. Her research centers on the impact of cognition and emotion on physiology and health, as well as the effects of psychological interventions on cognitive, emotional and physiological responses. She is particularly interested in the impact of social factors on one's sense of self, self-conscious emotions and physiology.

Richard Davidson

Richard J. Davidson, PhD, is the founder and chairman of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center, and the director of the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience and the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior, both at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He was educated at New York University and Harvard University, where he received his bachelor’s of arts and PhD degrees, respectively, in psychology. Over the course of his research career, he has focused on the relationship between brain and emotion. He is currently the William James professor and Vilas research professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin. He is co-author or editor of 13 books, including Visions of Compassion: Western Scientists and Tibetan Buddhists Examine Human Nature, The Handbook of Affective Science, and The Emotional Life of Your Brain. Davidson has published more than 300 chapters and journal articles, and is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards for his work, including the Research Scientist Award from the National Institute of Mental Health, the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association, and election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has served on the board of directors for the Mind & Life Institute since 1992. In 2006, Time named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world, and he received the first Mani Bhaumik Award from UCLA for advances in the understanding of the role of the brain and the conscious mind in healing.

Thupten Jinpa

Thupten Jinpa, PhD, was trained as a monk at the Shartse College of Ganden Monastic University, South India, where he received the Geshe Lharam degree. In addition, Jinpa holds a bachelor’s honors degree in philosophy and a PhD in religious studies, both from Cambridge University. He taught at Ganden monastery and worked as a research fellow in Eastern religions at Girton College, Cambridge University. Jinpa has been the principal English translator to His Holiness the Dalai Lama since 1985 and has translated and edited numerous books by the Dalai Lama, including the New York Times best-sellers Ethics for the New Millennium and The Art of Happiness, as well as Beyond Religion, Universe in a Single Atom, and Transforming the Mind. His own publications include, in addition to numerous Tibetan works, Essential Mind Training; Wisdom of the Kadam Masters; Self, Reality, and Reason in Tibetan Philosophy: Tsongkhapa’s Quest for the Middle View; as well as translations of major Tibetan works featured in The Library of Tibetan Classics series. He is the main author of Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT), an eight-week formal program developed at the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University. Jinpa is an adjunct professor on the faculty of religious studies at McGill University, Montreal; the founder and president of the Institute of Tibetan Classics, Montreal; and the general series editor of The Library of Tibetan Classics series. He has been a core member of the Mind & Life Institute from its inception. Jinpa lives in Montreal and is married with two daughters.