Contemplative Neurosciences Research

About David Vago, Ph.D.

Brigham and Women's Hospital

David Vago, Ph.D.
Scientific Advisor, Mindfulness, Well-being, and Psychedelic Research Community.
Former Associate Professor, Vanderbilt Brain Institute, Vanderbilt University

Dr. David Vago is scientific advisor for the mindfulness, well-being, and psychedelic research community. Dr. Vago is also currently the director of Neurosciences and co-director of communications for the International Society for Contemplative Research. He has an academic pedigree from Vanderbilt, Harvard, Weill Cornell and University of Utah. He is formerly Associate Professor and core training faculty for the Vanderbilt Brain Institute and Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology, and Inflammation. Dr. Vago has held a visiting faculty position as Associate Professor at the Contemplative Sciences Center, University of Virginia. He currently maintains a research associate position in the Functional Neuroimaging Laboratory, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Vago has previously held the position of Research Director at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Vanderbilt and Senior Research Coordinator for the Mind & Life Institute. Dr. Vago is currently a  Mind and Life Fellow, supporting the Mind and Life mission by advising on strategy and programs. He received his Bachelors Degree in Brain and Cognitive Sciences in 1997 from the University of Rochester. In 2005, David received his Ph.D. in Cognitive and Neural Sciences with a specialization in learning and memory from the department of Psychology, University of Utah. Dr. Vago has completed post-doctoral fellowships in Biological and Social Psychiatry, Neuropsychiatric Neuroimaging, and Mind and Body Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Weill Cornell Medical School, and University of Utah School of Medicine.

David’s research interests broadly focus on utilizing translational and system-based models to identify and characterize neurobiological and psychosocial mechanisms underlying adaptive mind-brain-body interactions and their therapeutic relevance in the context of mental health, chronic pain, and wellbeing. Through mixed methods of neuroimaging, cognitive-behavioral, and first-person phenomenology, Dr. Vago has led a multi-pronged translational research program that integrates basic neuroscience, clinical mechanistic trials, and cognitive-behavioral approaches. As scientific advisor, Dr. Vago is dedicated to accelerating evidenced-based innovation in the digital health and wellbeing industry and growing the academic field of contemplative science.

As Research Lead for the mental health and well-being platform, RoundGlass, he has helped develop strategy, create research infrastructure, design innovation-driven features, and provide subject matter expertise to develop content with scientific integrity. He has been a recipient of several research grants from the NIH and small foundations, has published over 85 peer-reviewed journal articles, chapters, and science abstracts cited over 13,500 times. His research has been covered by mainstream news outlets such as the Huffington Post, Boston Globe, Washington Post, Newsweek, Scientific American, and NPR, among others. As a thought leader in the field of integrative health and mindfulness research, Dr. Vago has given over 150 keynote and invited lectures, oral presentations, and grand rounds.

A number of research initiatives that are ongoing, include Mapping the Meditative Mind, in which Dr. Vago has partnered with contemporary meditation teachers and scholars to investigate psychosocial and neurobiological mechanisms supporting states of meditation across the spectrum of formal meditative expertise. Another initiative aims to identify mechanisms of engagement, identify predictors for clinical outcomes, and optimize mindfulness-based treatment interventions.  For more info – see Research Studies

He has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, spoken at international conferences, and his research has been covered by mainstream news outlets such as the Huffington Post, Boston Globe, and NPR, among others. David is an avid Vipassana, Dzogchen meditation and Hatha Yoga practitioner, and enjoys recreating in the outdoors with his wife, kids and dog.