UMass Medical School Creates First Division of Mindfulness

As the bar for research on mindfulness raises dramatically, a big change at the University of Massachusetts unites top-tier minds with increased resources to study meditation’s therapeutic potential.

Illustration by Ana Bustelo

Marking unprecedented support for the role of mindfulness in health care, the University of Massachusetts Medical School announced in December the creation of a new division dedicated to its academic study. The Division of Mindfulness, the first of its kind, encompasses the university’s existing Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society, started by Jon Kabat-Zinn in the 1980s. Within a medical school, a “division” indicates that an area, such as endocrinology or psychiatry, is designated as something requiring long-term focused study in order to develop increasingly more effective treatments.

By creating “the infrastructure to support researchers and clinicians to further the scientific knowledge of mindfulness and of how the mind works,” this new designation greatly increases the opportunities for research (as well as sources of funding for such research) and in supporting the application of mindfulness in the health fields and beyond, explains new division chief Judson Brewer, MD, PhD, an associate professor of medicine at the school and director of research at the center.

Likening the development to when “a teenager comes of age and leaves the house,” Brewer explained that the decision to establish an entire medical division dedicated to mindfulness is…