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Juliana M Santoyo and Juan F Santoyo

This project is being led by Juliana M Santoyo and Juan F Santoyo, a sibling team with combined expertise in education, diversity and equity work, neuroscience research, and contemplative models for healing. Through this work, both aim use their access to intellectual and institutional resources to make space for the voices and the healing of the people most marginalized and under-resourced in the midst of systemic violence.

Juan is a neuroscience researcher that has led research studying the efficacy of meditation-based clinical programs and the neurophysiological mechanisms that underlie these programs’ effects. Additionally, he has worked in basic neuroscience studying the neural mechanisms that underlie innate behaviors, and contributed to the development of a novel genetic tool for mapping and manipulating neural circuits. Of particular relevance for this project, he has 8 years of training in secular mindfulness, Soto Zen, and Dzogchen meditation traditions, including 3 years of experience teaching meditation in secular contexts and in addiction rehabilitation settings.  

Juliana has worked as an educator for 6 years in Boston and New York public schools, advocating for the well-being of black and Indigenous students inside and outside of the classroom. Juliana brings expertise in developing and implementing restorative justice frameworks in schools as well as developing equitable and decolonized curriculums that integrate healing modalities in the classroom as a pathway towards personal and societal transformation. Juliana also serves on the faculty of the Courage of Care Coalition, working to couple contemplative training with tools for systemic change to support individuals, organizations and communities in realizing a more equitable world. She also has 5+ years of meditation training with practice in secular mindfulness, Zen, and Tibetan Buddhist traditions.

In addition to collaborating on this project they have worked together to co-develop The Black Lotus Collective, a Boston based organization that aims to create models for engaging with meditation practice that prioritize the needs of marginalized peoples and for addressing the erasure of marginalized identities in mainstream contemplative spaces.

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Juan Felipe Jaramillo, MD

Both the development and implementation of this project is being carried out in direct collaboration with the Medellin-based non-profit, the Fundacion Zen Montaña de Silencio­. This organization is an official affiliate of the San Francisco Zen Center, and has 20+ years of experience offering meditation training classes in Medellin including meditation training and college mentorship to victims of the Colombian conflict. The program's curriculum will be taught by the founder and head teacher of the Fundacion Zen Montaña de Silencio, Juan Felipe Jaramillo (MD), a native to Medellin and a meditation instructor for over 25 years ordained in the Soto Zen tradition of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi and also a student of the Theravadan and Zen teacher Gil Fronsdale.

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Co-Principal Investigator

Sara W Lazar, PhD

Sara W. Lazar, PhD is an Associate Researcher in the Psychiatry Department at Massachusetts General Hospital and an Assistant Professor in Psychology at Harvard Medical School. The focus of her research is to elucidate the neural mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of yoga and meditation, both in clinical settings and in healthy individuals. She is a contributing author to Meditation and Psychotherapy (Guilford Press). She has been practicing yoga and mindfulness meditation since 1994. Her research has been covered by numerous news outlets including The New York Times, USA Today, CNN, and WebMD, and her work has been featured in a display at the Boston Museum of Science. 
More information can be found at



The curriculum which we will be implemented was designed in part by a Mind and Life Think Tank which brought together experts in clinical work, psychiatric trauma work, contemplative teaching, and scientific and scholarly research. This think tank will continue to supervise the program’s implementation over the next year as an advisory board.

Past and Present Think Tank Members:


Ana Maria Restrepo Saenz, Ed.M


Alejandro Chaoul, Ph.D


Brooke Dodson-Lavelle, PhD


Catalina Acosta, MD


Constanza Baquedano, PhD


Cristobal Danobeitia, PhD


Juan Felipe Jaramillo, MD


Luis Alejandro Moya Riveros,  LL.M


Mariana Fajardo Patino, ex-combatant (FARC-EP)


Sebastian Medeiros, MD



This project has also received invaluable support from the following organizations:
The Humanitarian Innovation Initiative at the Brown University Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
La Fundacion Zen Montana de Silencio
The Courage of Care Coalition
The Trust for the Meditation Process
The Mind and Life Institute

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