It is our great pleasure to invite you to attend the Inaugural Symposium and Launch Celebration of the Thich Nhat Hanh Center for Mindfulness in Public Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

This day-long, inaugural symposium and launch celebration will bring together leading academics, well-known practitioners of mindfulness, and monastics who studied under Thich Nhat Hanh. We anticipate several hundred guests from the Boston community and beyond. We will honor Thich Nhat Hanh's remarkable life and timeless teachings while exploring the scientific evidence supporting the value of practicing mindfulness to improve well-being.

This event is a unique opportunity to connect in-person and will not be live-streamed. However, a video recording of the event will be available at a later time, so those who are unable to attend the live event can still benefit from the experience. Join us for an inspiring and informative day of discussion, networking, and mindfulness.
Joseph B. Martin Center
77 Avenue Louis Pasteur
Boston, Massachusetts 02115

Date & Time
April 26, 2023
8:00 AM - 4:30 PM
Symposium Presenters
Symposium presenters will explore the scientific evidence supporting the value of practicing mindfulness to improve well-being. Speakers will also lay out the agenda of the new Thich Nhat Hanh Center for Mindfulness in Public Health, which aims to use mindfulness as a tool for advancing public health around the world.
Don Berwick
Donald M. Berwick, MD, MPP, FRCP, president emeritus and senior fellow, Institute for Healthcare Improvement, is also former administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
Alia Crum
Alia J. Crum, PhD, associate professor of psychology at Stanford University and the principal investigator of the Stanford Mind & Body Lab.
Elissa Epel
Elissa Epel, PhD, professor and vice chair in the department of psychiatry at University of California, San Francisco.
Diane Gilbert-Diamond
Diane Gilbert-Diamond, ScD, associate professor of epidemiology, medicine, and pediatrics at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth.
John Kabat-Zinn
Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD, internationally known for his work as a scientist, writer, and meditation teacher engaged in bringing mindfulness into the mainstream of medicine and society.
Willem Kuyken
Willem Kuyken, PhD, Ritblat professor of mindfulness and psychological science at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom, and director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre.
Sara Lazar
Sara W. Lazar, PhD, associate professor in the Psychiatry Department at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
Eric Loucks
Eric B. Loucks, PhD, director of the Mindfulness Center at Brown University.         
Ryan Niemiec
Ryan M. Niemiec, PsyD, chief science and education officer of the VIA Institute on Character, the global leader in strengths.
Ivan Perry
Ivan Perry, MD, MSc, PhD, emeritus professor of public health and former foundation dean at the School of Public Health, University College Cork, Republic of Ireland.
Zev Schuman-Olivier
Zev Schuman-Olivier, MD, center director of the Cambridge Health Alliance Center for Mindfulness and Compassion, director of research, and director of the Mindful Mental Health Service at CHA.
Ha Vinh Tho
Ha Vinh Tho, PhD, founder of the Eurasia Learning Institute for Happiness and Wellbeing.
David Vago
David R. Vago, PhD, research associate professor of psychology at Vanderbilt University, research associate in psychiatry at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
Nicholas van Dam
Nicholas van Dam, PhD, inaugural director of the Contemplative Studies Centre and associate professor at the University of Melbourne.
Elli Weisbaum
Elli Weisbaum, PhD, assistant professor of the Buddhism, mental health, and psychology program at the University of Toronto.
Additional Speakers
Lilian Cheung
Lilian Cheung, DSc, RD, is lecturer, director of health promotion & communication, and director of mindfulness research & practice at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Department of Nutrition.
Harvey Fineberg
Harvey V. Fineberg, MD, PhD, president of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. He previously served as president of the U.S. National Academy of Medicine (previously Institute of Medicine), as provost of Harvard University, and as dean of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Frank Hu
Frank Hu, MD, MPH, PhD, chair of Department of Nutrition, Fredrick J. Stare Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Walter Willett
Walter C. Willett, MD, DrPH, director of the Thich Nhat Hanh Center for Mindfulness in Public Health and professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. 
Dean Michelle A. Williams
Michelle A. Williams, SM, ScD, is dean of the faculty, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Angelopoulos Professor in Public Health and International Development, a joint faculty appointment at the Harvard Chan School and Harvard Kennedy School. 
Monastic Participants
We are pleased to announce the participation of 34 monastics from Plum Village Monastery (France); Deer Park Monastery (California), Blue Cliff Monastery (New York), Magnolia Grove Monastery (Mississippi), and the European Institute of Applied Buddhism (Germany).
Sister Chan Khong
Sister Chan Khong, PhD, is the first fully-ordained monastic disciple of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and director of his humanitarian projects since the 1960’s.
Brother Phap An
Brother Phap An, MS, PhD, is director and dean of studies at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism. He is an elder disciple of Thich Nhat Hanh.
Brother Phap Luu
Brother Phap Luu, (Dharma Stream) was ordained as a novice monk in 2003 and given full ordination as a bhikshu in 2006. He received the Lamp Transmission from Thich Nhat Hanh to become a Dharma teacher in 2011.
Sister Hien Nghiem
Sister Hien Nghiem (True Dedication) was ordained in 2008 and received Lamp Transmission from Thich Nhat Hanh to become a Dharma teacher in 2016.
Symposium Schedule
8:00 AM
Registration and Continental Breakfast
8:45 AM
Mindful Breathing with Sister Chan Khong & Monastics
9:00 AM
Opening Remarks by Dean Michelle A. Williams
9:10 AM
Welcome & Reflections on Thich Nhat Hanh by Dr. Lilian Cheung
9:20 AM
Welcome & Introduction by Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg
9:25 AM
Session 1: The Current State of Mindfulness Research and Practice
Dr. Walter Willett Moderator
Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn A Historical Perspective on This Confluence of Streams: The Intersection of Mindfulness, Dharma Wisdom, and Public Health
Dr. David Vago What, who, and where: The evidence-based context for mindfulness approaches
Dr. Sara Lazar Impact of mindfulness training on psychosocial development
Dr. Eric Loucks Mindfulness training across the adult lifespan for whole-person health: The MBC and MB-BP trials
Dr. Elissa Epel Mindful eating and metabolic health
Dr. Walter Willett Summary and discussion
11:00 AM
Break from 11:00 AM to 11:15 AM
11:15 AM
Session 2: The Current State of Mindfulness Research and Practice 
Dr. Frank Hu Moderator
Dr. Diane Gilbert-Diamond A Plum Village mindfulness intervention to reduce excess caloric consumption in children
Dr. Alia Crum Harnessing mindsets in 21st-century healthcare
Dr. Nick van Dam When mindfulness is too much and not enough
Dr. Willem Kuyken Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for life: Ancient wisdom meets modern psychology in the contemporary world
Brother Phap Luu Perspectives
12:30 pM
Mindful Lunch with Sister Chan Khong & Monastics
Mindful Lunch will be led by Sr. Chan Khong where guests can participate in the practice of mindful eating.
1:30 pM
Mindful Walking with Monastics
Guests can explore and practice walking slowly and mindfully alongside monastics.
2:15 pM
Perspective of Public Health by Dr. Don Berwick (video)
2:25 pM
Session 3: Integrating Mindfulness in Public Health Research and Practice
Dr. Harvey Fineberg Moderator
Dr. Ivan Perry Mindful individuals and mindful populations
Dr. Ha Vinh Tho The Happy School Program in Vietnam: Mindfulness as a source of mental wellbeing for children and adolescents
Dr. Ryan Niemiec The science of wholesome seeds: Interbeing, earth, and peace
Sister True Dedication Perspectives 
Dr. Harvey Fineberg Summary and discussion
3:30 pM
Break from 3:30 PM to 3:45 PM
3:45 pM
Session 4: Agenda for Research on Mindfulness in Public Health
Dr. Harvey Fineberg Moderator
Dr. Walter Willett Discussion
Dr. Elli Weisbaum Discussion
Dr. Zev Schuman-Olivier Discussion
Brother Phap An Perspectives 
Dr. Harvey Fineberg Summary and discussion
4:30 pM
Symposium Concludes
Thich Nhat Hanh was a Zen master, a peace activist, a teacher, and a driving force behind the introduction of mindfulness to the Western world.

We are proud to have our Center named for this soft-spoken Buddhist monk, who devoted his long life to refining the practice of mindfulness and sharing those insights with the world. Thich Nhat Hanh (or “Thay,” which means teacher in Vietnamese) teaches us to live fully in the here and now, to recognize our connections with those around us, and to act with purpose to preserve and protect our planet. We hope our center will spread those values around the world through the study and teaching of mindfulness.

Born in Vietnam in 1926, Thich Nhat Hanh entered a Buddhist monastery at age 16. A life of contemplation suited him, yet in viewing the suffering in the world, he also felt compelled to speak up, mobilize, and actively work toward a better future. In so doing, he founded the “engaged Buddhism” movement. Throughout the Vietnam War, Thich Nhat Hanh traveled tirelessly to spread the principles of nonviolence, compassion, and solidarity, working alongside activists such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who nominated the Buddhist monk for a Nobel Prize at the height of the war. In his home country, meanwhile, Thich Nhat Hanh put his principles into action by founding an all-volunteer relief organization, known as the School of Youth and Social Service. Because of his activism, Thich Nhat Hanh was exiled from Vietnam.

In November 2018, after suffering a stroke in 2014, Thich Nhat Hanh returned to Từ Hiếu Temple in Huế, Vietnam, where he ordained. He expressed a wish to stay there for his remaining days. At the age of 95, Thich Nhat Hanh passed away peacefully in the early moments of January 22, 2022, in the Deep Listening Hut at Từ Hiếu Temple, surrounded by loving disciples.
The Thich Nhat Hanh Center for Mindfulness in Public Health empowers people around the globe to live with purpose, equanimity, and joy through the practice of mindfulness.

We actively pursue evidence-based approaches to improving health and well-being through mindfulness, undertaking rigorous scientific inquiry to identify best practices and evaluate potential benefits. We actively engage with the public to share our findings, providing resources to help individuals of every background practice mindfulness in their daily lives, including mindful eating, to protect both their health and the health of the planet.

By pursuing these dual tracks of academic research and public engagement, we aim to improve public health and inspire global action.
Day of
You and your family are welcome to join us for the Day of Mindfulness.
Where to stay
Hotel accommodations near Joseph B. Martin Center
77 Avenue Louis Pasteur
Boston, MA 02115
Hilton Garden Inn - Group Block 
1 mile to the Longwood Medical Area
$229 + tax
Colonnade Hotel
1.7 miles to the Longwood Medical Area
$312 + tax
Homewood Suites by Hilton
2.2 miles to the Longwood Medical Area
$349 + tax
Contact Us
To request special dietary requirements or accommodation, or for accessibility inquires, please contact us. We look forward to hearing from you!
Please submit your questions and concerns here or reach out by phone or email.

Dawn DeCosta, Executive Director
[email protected]

Digital Accessibility
"Peace is not simply the absence of violence; it is the cultivation of understanding, insight and compassion, combined with action."
- Thich Nhat Hanh
Copyright © 2023 The President and Fellows of Harvard College
 Join us on April 26, 2023 
We look forward to hosting you!

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