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Stanford starts brain center to study altruism

January 25, 2009

$150,000 funding came from the Dalai Lama
 
Palo Alto Online - Palo Alto
January 23, 2009
 
The Stanford University School of Medicine has launched the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, thanks to a $150,000 gift in seed money from the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.
 
It's the largest sum the Dalai Lama has ever given to a scientific effort, according to Stanford.
 
Impetus for the new center began in 2005 when the Dalai Lama visited Stanford to talk to scientists and Buddhist scholars about spiritual and scientific explanations for the human experiences of craving, suffering and choice.
 
Stanford Professor William Mobley, a neurologist, moderated the discussions. Mobley and Jim Doty, a clinical professor of neurosurgery, then got the idea for the center. Doty and Mobley are co-directors of the new center, which is housed in the Stanford Institute for Neuro-Innovation and Translational Neurosciences.
 
A Stanford delegation then visited the Dalai Lama in Seattle last March to talk about the plans for the new center, and the Dalai Lama "spontaneously volunteered" the $150,000 gift and promised a return visit to Stanford.
 
The center has now raised $2 million in donations.
 
"As a neurosurgeon, I can only affect a few patients each day," Doty said. "Through the activities of the center, we have the potential to impact thousands to millions of people to live fuller and more positive lives."
 
Among the issues the center wishes to address, Doty said, are:
 
• Is there an explanation why a child becomes a bully?
 
• Are there ways in which children or their parents can be taught to be more compassionate?
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