Mind & Life co-founder Francisco Varela
Next application period: August 18 to September 15, 2021

Updated March 4, 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 training offers modern science novel methods for investigating human experience. In his vision, contemplative training not only provides a new domain for scientific study, but more importantly offers resources for advancing scientific theories and models of consciousness, emotion, cognition, and self.

The Varela Grants fund rigorous examinations of contemplative techniques with the ultimate goal that findings derived from such investigations will provide greater insight into contemplative practices and their application 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 traditional 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. To be eligible for a 2021 Varela Grant, one must have attended the Mind & Life Summer Research Institute in Garrison, NY (or online) in 2017 or later, or the 2018 International Research Institute in Kyoto, Japan. Grants of up to $20,000 are awarded annually through a competitive application, review, and selection process.

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