UC San Diego Receives $10 Million for Study on Meditation and Medicine

SAN DIEGO—The nonprofit InnerScience Research Fund has committed $10 million to the University of California–San Diego (UCSD) over the next five years for research on how meditation may slow the progression of serious terminal and chronic illnesses, it was announced May 17.

InnerScience studies the “biological and physiological effects of meditation on the human body.” The funds for UCSD will be directed to research on how the practice may affect the body and brain, and how it could potentially be used in clinical settings.

“At InnerScience, our goal is to be able to empower individuals with the tools to heal and thrive,” said Andrew Wright, board member and senior advisor for the nonprofit. “Our vision is a world where meditation becomes an integral part of the standard of care in treating illness and disease.”

The research will be led by Hemal Patel, professor and vice chair for research in the Department of Anesthesiology at UCSD School of Medicine and a research scientist at the VA San Diego Healthcare System.

As part of a continuing study, Patel and his team will assess the impact of meditation on nearly 2,000 people undergoing intensive meditative experiences.

The team is using wearable devices to track biometrics, including heart rate, heart rate variability, sleep, activity, and more among people in the cohort.

With support from InnerScience, the team plans to generate and integrate the data sets into a machine-learning platform with the goal of finding common signatures in the meditative experiences that may indicate health changes.

“Funding from InnerScience has the potential to accelerate the research discovery process, something that would likely take more than a decade to achieve through traditional routes, leading to deep insights to benefit humans faster and in a more impactful way,” Patel said.

The team also plans to use the gift to look at ways in which meditation impacts people by considering “physiological, biochemical and molecular changes that impact the individual in isolation and in socially connected settings—including twins, young-to-aged pairings, and mothers and their infants—to transform mind and body,” a statement from UCSD reads.

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