Change Your Mind, Change the World

Center for Healthy Minds

University of Wisconsin–Madison
625 W. Washington Ave.
Madison, WI 53703-2637
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We get a lot of questions. Here are answers to our most popular.

Healthy Minds Program

Why Us?

Center Founder Richard J. Davidson
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Founded and led by world-renowned neuroscientist Richard J. Davidson, the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin–Madison is a global leader in conducting novel research that has revolutionized how we understand the mind, our emotions, and how to nurture well-being in ourselves and others. 

In 1992, the Dalai Lama personally challenged Davidson to investigate positive qualities of mind through the lens of neuroscience. His Holiness believes that “…all humans have an innate desire to overcome suffering and find happiness.” This launched a robust series of research studies, with new discoveries continuing to emerge to this day on how the mind works and how we can cultivate well-being.

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Through an unflagging insistence on scientific rigor, we have brought credibility to our claim that well-being can be learned. More than 300 published articles of ours, in top peer-reviewed journals, have spurred an explosion of research worldwide. For decades, the Center has successfully competed for several multi-year federal grants to support our basic research. Davidson has also served on committees and led numerous efforts through the National Institutes of Health, the nation’s largest federal funder of health-related research. The Center’s scientific alumni now lead research centers and labs throughout the world.

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As the result of our supporters’ investments and faith in us, we now have nine new endowed professorships to fill with internationally esteemed leaders in their fields. Bringing strengths in education, psychology, epigenetics, neuroscience, human development, and economics, these experts bring an astonishing infusion of intellectual capital that will be transformative in carrying our vision forward in years to come.

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Davidson leads on a world stage. He advises leaders in government and corporate C-suites. He speaks at gatherings such as the World Bank and World Economic Forum. He co-authored the 2015 World Happiness Report, commonly cited by the United Nations. Our Center convenes influencers such as Richard Layard, eminent economist; Don Berwick, former director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services; Arianna Huffington, an influential voice in the media; and Dan Goleman, international leader in emotional intelligence. Relationships like these, many stretching over years, help us shift policy and program decisions that have influenced millions of people.

Internationally-Ranked UW–Madison
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We benefit immeasurably from our home at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, consistently rated among the top five academic centers for federal research expenditures and top 25 among universities worldwide. We enjoy a highly collaborative environment that makes it possible to pioneer novel research with incredibly talented colleagues in fields as diverse as biology, economics, psychology, education, religion, and health sciences. We are grateful for the enthusiastic support of the UW–Madison Chancellor and the Board of Regents, who add greatly to the sustainability of the Center through infrastructure and administrative support we could not possibly duplicate as a freestanding center.

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From the early years, when Davidson’s work was often met with deep skepticism, he and Center scientists pressed forward, resisting dissuasion and embracing the professional risks associated with pioneering this work. Our deep belief that we can play an integral role in our own happiness and the well-being of others drives us forward. There will continue to be challenges along the way. We now stand at a chasm that requires a giant leap to bring our vision closer to fruition.