Mind & Life co-founder Francisco Varela
Funding decisions announced in December

Updated June 3, 2020

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 Varela Grant, the applicant must have attended the Mind & Life Summer Research Institute in the United States, or the International Research Institute in Japan, within the last five years (i.e., for 2020 applications, one must have attended a Summer Research Institute in 2016 or later). Grants of up to $20,000 are awarded annually through a competitive application, review, and selection process.

This year, we especially encourage applications that demonstrate relevance to the current Covid-19 pandemic. 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 attendees of the European Summer Research Institutes. For those applying based on attendance of a European Summer Research Institute in Chiemsee, Germany, please visit the Mind & Life Europe website. Applicants may only apply for one Varela Grant in a given year.

For any questions about this grant, please see the FAQ, or email  VarelaGrants@mindandlife.org.

Congratulations to our
2019 Varela Grant Recipients

2019 Varela Grants Review Committee

Gaelle Desbordes, PhD

Grants & Science Manager, Mind & Life Institute

Kirk Warren Brown, PhD

Virginia Commonwealth University

Kathryn Devaney, PhD

Harvard Medical School

Amy Finlay-Jones, PhD

Starlight Fellow, Telethon Kids Institute

Kathleen Garrison, PhD

Yale University

Peter Grossenbacher

Naropa University

Yuki Imoto

Keio University

Laura Schmalzl, PhD

Southern California University of Health Sciences

Convening Faculty, Grantee

Nicholas Van Dam

University of Melbourne, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai