Mind & Life co-founder Francisco Varela
Applications for the 2021 Varela Grants are now closed.

Updated September 16, 2021

The Mind & Life Francisco J. Varela Research Grants—an important and integral component of Mind & Life’s support of contemplative scientists and scholars—are based on neuroscientist and philosopher Francisco J. Varela’s belief that contemplative practices offer modern science novel, valuable methods for investigating human experience.

The Varela Grants fund rigorous examinations of contemplative practices with the ultimate goal that findings derived from such investigations will provide greater insight into contemplative practices and their applications for reducing human suffering and promoting flourishing.

Proposals are encouraged across broad domains, including: cognitive science, clinical psychology, education, anthropology, neuroscience, health/medical, social science, and humanities. Preference is given to interdisciplinary proposals that incorporate first-person contemplative methods (e.g., introspective investigation and reports on subjective experience) into cognitive, behavioral, physiological, clinical, or socio-cultural research. This grant program encourages the active collaboration of scientists with contemplative scholars/practitioners in all phases of research.

Grants of up to $20,000 (USD) are awarded annually through a competitive application, review, and selection process. Varela Grants are intended for early-career scientists and scholars. To be eligible for a 2021 Varela Grant, applicants must be either graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, or junior faculty. In addition, they must have attended the Mind & Life Summer Research Institute in 2017 or later, or the 2018 International Research Institute in Kyoto, Japan.

Please read the full Request for Proposals (RFP) for more information.

Mind & Life wishes to express our deep thanks to the Hershey Family Foundation for their generous support of this program since its inception.

**NOTE: There is a different application cycle and process for the European Varela Awards. Please visit the Mind & Life Europe website for more information. Applicants may only apply for one type of Varela grant in a given year.

For any questions about the Varela Grant program, please see the FAQ, or email  VarelaGrants@mindandlife.org.

Congratulations to our
2020 Varela Grant Recipients

2020 Varela Grants Review Committee

Kirk Warren Brown, PhD

Virginia Commonwealth University

Convening Faculty, Fellow

Kathryn Devaney, PhD

Harvard Medical School

Amy Finlay-Jones, PhD

Telethon Kids Institute, Australia

Kathleen Garrison, PhD

Yale University


Anthony King, PhD

University of Michigan


Melissa Rosenkranz, PhD

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Nicholas Van Dam, PhD

University of Melbourne, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Fellow, Grantee

Anthony Zanesco, PhD

University of California–Davis