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Leadership

David S. Black, Ph.D., M.P.H., Founding Director 

Dr. Black is the Founding Director of the American Mindfulness Research Association, and an Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Dr. Black is also a member of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Associate Director of Education for the USC Center for Mindfulness Science. His research had been funded by university, private, and federal grants for over 16 years. He as authored and co-authored over 70 peer-reviewed articles in journals including JAMA Internal Medicine, JAMA Pediatrics, Cancer, Pediatrics, American Journal of Public Health, Behaviour Research and Therapy, and Psychosomatic Medicine. Dr. Black began his early career in the health sciences and earned a Master of Public Health degree and directed his first grant-funded human subjects research study prior to finishing his masters thesis. He trained as a NIH National Cancer Institute predoctoral fellow for five years at the USC Institute for Prevention Research, where he latter earned his Ph.D. The focus of his doctoral training was in substance misuse prevention and addictions research. He had self-studied contemplative theory and practices over the previous decade, and realized an opportunity to merge his passion for the contemplative studies with his training in the health sciences. The originating concepts that evolved into the AMRA project arose from the struggles he faced from conducting research in a new field while writing his dissertation, and so was motivated to bring cohesion to the field with a research monitoring, translation, and dissemination project. He continued advanced training as a NIH National Institute on Aging postdoctoral fellow at the University of California at Los Angeles Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology. He focused his research effort on conducting a randomized controlled trial to test the impact of mindfulness training on sleep and inflammation in older adults with sleep problems. He went on to articulate a novel conceptual model to illustrate how mindfulness training exerts biological influence from brain to body using a genomic signal transduction framework with downstream biological impact on sympathetic nervous system activity, release of norepinephrine at nerve terminals, activation of b-adrenergic receptors on adjacent cells, and the cAMP/PKA signaling pathway that ultimately regulates gene expression by stimulating transcription factors, particularly those associated with the propagation of inflammation in peripheral blood. He recently completed a NIH NIDA R01 randomized controlled trial testing mindfulness training added to residential treatment for substance use disorder. He is currently co-directing a four-group experimental laboratory study to test the effect of mindfulness training combined with intranasal oxytocin on smoking lapse and craving among smokers. He enjoys mentoring undergraduate and graduate students, was awarded the prestigious USC Mentoring Award for graduate students from the Center for Excellence in Teaching. He enjoys spending time with his family in nature, fly fishing, camping, and reading.  

Seth Zuihō Segall. Ph.D., Science Writer 

Dr. Segall is a clinical psychologist and Zen Buddhist priest who served on the faculties of Southeast Missouri State University (1978), Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (1979-1980), the Yale School of Medicine (1981-2009), and SUNY Purchase (2012-2017). He completed a professional internship at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society in 1996. Dr. Segall is a former Director of Psychology at Waterbury Hospital (1998-2004) and a former President of the New England Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (1998-2000). He served as a chaplain associate at White Plains Hospital (2016-2020), and writes the monthly Highlights column for the Mindfulness Research Monthly (2012-present). Dr. Segall’s publications include Buddhism and Human Flourishing (Palgrave MacMillan, 2020), Living Zen: A Practical Guide of a Balanced Existence (Rockridge, 2020), and Encountering Buddhism: Western Psychology and Buddhist Teachings (SUNY Press, 2003). He is guest co-editor (along with Belinda Khong, PhD) of a special double issue of The Humanistic Psychologist (2021) devoted to controversies surrounding mindfulness. He has a forthcoming a chapter in the The Philosophy of Meditation (Routledge, scheduled for publication in 2022), and a forthcoming co-written chapter (along with Jean Kristeller, PhD) for the Handbook of Positive Psychology, Religion, and Spirituality (Springer, scheduled for publication in 2022). Dr. Segall’s blog, The Existential Buddhist (2010-present) contains over 130 essays on Buddhist philosophy, ethics, history, art, meditation, and social engagement. He is currently putting the finishing touches on the manuscript for a new book, tentatively titled Flourishing: Happiness, Virtue, and the Well-Lived Life, which explores philosophical questions related to well-being.

Affiliate Content Experts

Linda Carlson, Ph.D.

Dr. Carlson holds the Enbridge Research Chair in Psychosocial Oncology, is Full Professor in Psychosocial Oncology in the Department of Oncology, Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary, and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Psychology. She is the Director of Research and works as a Clinical Psychologist at the Department of Psychosocial Resources at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre (TBCC), where she has worked since 1997. She also holds a CIHR SPOR-funded mentorship chair in innovative clinical trials, which funds the TRACTION program (Training in Research And Clinical Trials in Integrative Oncology), supporting a multidisciplinary group of University of Calgary fellows studying Integrative Oncology. Her research in Psychosocial Oncology, Integrative Oncology and Mindfulness-Based Cancer Recovery has been published in many high-impact journals and book chapters, and she published a patient manual in 2011 with Michael Speca entitled: Mindfulness-Based Cancer Recovery: A step-by-step MBSR approach to help you cope with treatment and reclaim your life, in addition to a professional training manual in 2009 (2nd Edition 2017) with Shauna Shapiro entitled The Art and Science of Mindfulness: Integrating mindfulness into psychology and the helping professions. She has published over 200 research papers and book chapters.Bio coming soon

Rebecca Crane, Ph.D.

Dr. Crane directs the Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice at Bangor University. She teaches and trains internationally in both Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. Her research and publications focus on how the evidence on mindfulness-based interventions can be implemented with integrity into practice settings. She has written Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy Distinctive Features 2017, co-authored Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy with People at Risk of Suicide, 2017 and is a Principle Fellow with the Higher Education Academy. She is a trainer internationally in MBCT and MBSR programs, and she  trains in the use of her competence framework - the MBI:TAC. Her research investigates the process of MBCT implementation in the UK health service; ways of assessing mindfulness-based teaching competence; the links between training level, teaching competence and participant outcome; and adaptations of existing models of delivery. 

Richard Davidson, Ph.D.

Dr. Davidson is the William James and Vilas Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the Founder and Director of the Center for Healthy Minds. He is best known for his groundbreaking work studying emotion and the brain. His research is focused on cortical and subcortical substrates of emotion and affective disorders, including depression and anxiety. He uses quantitative electrophysiology, positron emission tomography and functional magnetic resonance imaging to make inferences about patterns of regional brain function. A major focus of our current work is on interactions between prefrontal cortex and the amygdala in the regulation of emotion in both normal subjects and patients with affective and anxiety disorders. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in Psychology and has been at Wisconsin since 1984. He has published more than 275 articles, many chapters and reviews and edited 13 books. He is the author of The Emotional Life of Your Brain and The Mind’s Own Physician. 

Patricia Jennings, Ph.D., M.Ed.

Dr. Jennings is an internationally recognized leader in the fields of social and emotional learning and mindfulness in education and Professor of Education at the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Virginia. Her research places a specific emphasis on teacher stress and how it impacts the social and emotional context of the classroom, as articulated in her highly cited theoretical article "The Prosocial Classroom." Jennings led the team that developed CARE, a mindfulness-based professional development program shown to significantly improve teacher well-being, classroom interactions and student engagement in the largest randomized controlled trial of a mindfulness-based intervention designed specifically to address teacher occupational stress. She is a co-author of Flourish: The Compassionate Schools Project curriculum, an integrated health and physical education program and is co-Investigator on a large randomized controlled trial to evaluate the curriculum’s efficacy. She is currently the Principal Investigator of Project CATALYZE, a study that will examine whether CARE enhances the effectiveness of a social and emotional learning curriculum funded by an Education Innovation Research grant from the US Department of Education to conduct. A member of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Fostering Healthy Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Development among Children and Youth, she was awarded the Cathy Kerr Award for Courageous and Compassionate Science by the Mind & Life Institute in 2018 and recently recognized by Mindful Magazine as one of "Ten Mindfulness Researchers You Should Know." Earlier in her career, Jennings spent more than 22 years as a teacher, school director and teacher educator. 

Eric Lopez Maya, Ph.D.

Dr. Lopez Maya is the Director of the Mexican Institute for Mindfulness, a leading Institution in Mexico that offers mindfulness-based interventions and teacher training programs for companies and the general public. He is a Teacher-Trainer in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction trained at the Center for Mindfulness in the University of Massachusetts Medical Schools. Eric has led and collaborated in mindfulness research projects in Mexico, United States and Germany. He holds a certificate in Mindfulness Facilitation from UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center and is a Certified Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction teacher through the programs offered by the University of Massachusetts Medical School and received training in Mind-Body Medicine at Harvard Medical School. His research tests the effects of mindfulness practice on immune system functioning in Latinos. 

Diana Winston

Mrs. Winston is the Director of Mindfulness Education at the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center. She is the author of The Little Book of Being: Practices and Guidance for Uncovering your Natural Awareness, and the co-author, with Susan Smalley PhD, of Fully Present, the Science, Art and Practice of Mindfulness. She has taught mindfulness for health and well-being since 1993 in a variety of settings including the medical and mental health field, and in universities, businesses, non-profits, and schools. At UCLA she has developed the evidence-based Mindful Awareness Practices (MAPs) curriculum and the Training in Mindfulness Facilitation (TMF), which trains mindfulness teachers worldwide. She is also a founder of the International Mindfulness Teachers Association.  Diana has been practicing mindfulness since 1989, including a year a Buddhist nun in Burma.

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