“Can I study meditation and have a future as a scientist?” In 2001, when David Creswell asked his graduate school advisor at UCLA that question, the answer was not obvious. Only 28 scienti c papers on mindfulness had been published that year. Nonetheless, his advisor encouraged him, saying, “If you study meditation in a scienti – cally rigorous way, you could make quite an impact.”
Creswell, an assistant professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon Universityin Pittsburgh, is also director of the university’s Health & Human Performance Laboratory. He has become one of the leading researchers in a eld of study that has grown exponentially over the past decade, with more than 400 scienti c papers published every year.
Creswell’s strategy has been to identify signi cant popula- tions where stress may be a key element in deteriorating health and see if a mindful- ness intervention can help.
For example, a small randomized control trial conducted in 2009 foundthat mindfulness could slow disease progression in HIV- positive adults who exhibited moderate to high stress. The HIV virus attacks speci c components of the immune system, most notably CD4+T lymphocytes that help block pathogens and infec- tions. When the lymphocytes…