(Philadelphia, PA) - A new “Center for Spirituality
and the Mind” has been created at the University of
Pennsylvania School of Medicine to support campus-wide
researchers from a wide variety of academic disciplines who will
further our understanding of what it means to be “religious”
and “spiritual.” The multi-disciplinary teams of researchers
will study the issue from a number of related perspectives -- including
psychological, social, biological, and ideological.
The Center, which evolved from work initiated in Penn’s Department
of Radiology, will embrace and encourage researchers from the fields
of medicine, pastoral care, religious studies, social work, nursing,
and bioethics to expand our knowledge of how spirituality may affect
the human brain.
“Many of us think of the mind, brain, and body as an integrated
system, and so there is much to study in this area of how beliefs
affect our health and behavior,” explains Andrew Newberg,
MD, Assistant Professor of Radiology, Psychiatry, and Religious
Studies, who will also direct the Center’s investigations.
“Our Center will emphasize mental health research, as well
as address issues of the relationship between spirituality and neurosciences.”
Center scientists will conduct empirical research and develop grants
to explore the underlying neurophysiology of religious beliefs.
Newberg would also like to expand the research to social and cultural
behaviors, encompassing the areas of social work, anthropology,
“Our researchers are intensely interested in the religious,
theological, and philosophical implications of the research in this
field,” adds Newberg. “It cuts across so many disciplines,
and it is at the center of the whole discussion of what religion
and spirituality are to us as human beings. Ours will be the first
Center in the world to explore this from the perspective of the
“When we look at human beings, there have been two major
forces in human history: the religious/spiritual force and the science/technological
force,” he continues. “They’ve both had such an
important role throughout time that we really need to look at how
these two are inter-related, for humanity, in a global way.”
PENN Medicine is a $2.9 billion enterprise
dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical
research, and high-quality patient care. PENN Medicine consists
of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in
1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of
Pennsylvania Health System.
Penn's School of Medicine is ranked #2 in the nation for receipt
of NIH research funds; and ranked #3 in the nation in U.S.News &
World Report's most recent ranking of top research-oriented medical
schools. Supporting 1,400 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the
School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education
and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and
leaders of academic medicine.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System includes three
hospitals [Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, which is
consistently ranked one of the nation's few "Honor Roll"
hospitals by U.S.News & World Report; Pennsylvania Hospital,
the nation's first hospital; and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center];
a faculty practice plan; a primary-care provider network; two multispecialty
satellite facilities; and home care and hospice.