James R. Doty, MD

James R. Doty, MD

Director and Founder, CCARE
Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery, Stanford University

James Doty, MD, is a Clinical Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at Stanford University and the Director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education as Stanford University School of Medicine. He completed his undergraduate education at the University of CA, Irvine and medical school at Tulane University. He trained in neurosurgery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and completed fellowships in pediatric neurosurgery at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia (CHOP) and in neuroelectrophysiology focused on the use of evoked potentials to assess the integrity of neurological function. His more recent research interests have focused on the development of technologies using focused beams of radiation in conjunction with robotics and image-guidance techniques to treat solid tumors and other pathologies in the brain and spinal cord. He spent 9 years on active duty service in the U.S. Army Medical Corp.

As Director of CCARE, Dr. Doty has collaborated on a number of research projects focused on compassion and altruism including the use of neuro-economic models to assess altruism, use of the CCARE developed compassion cultivation training in individuals and its effect, assessment of compassionate and altruistic judgment utilizing implanted brain electrodes and the use of optogenetic techniques to assess nurturing pathways in rodents. Presently, he is developing collaborative research projects to assess the effect of compassion training on immunologic and other physiologic determinates of health, the use of mentoring as a method of instilling compassion in students and the use of compassion training to decrease pain.

Dr. Doty is also an inventor, entrepreneur and philanthropist having given support to a number of charitable organizations including Children as the Peacemakers, Global Healing and Family & Children Services. These charities support a variety of programs throughout the world including those for HIV/AIDS support, blood banks, medical care in third world countries and peace initiatives. Additionally, he has endowed chairs at major universities including Stanford University and his alma mater, Tulane University. He is on the Board of Directors of a number of non-profit foundations including the University of Southern California Brain and Creativity Institute, the Friends of New Orleans (FONO) and the Dalai Lama Foundation of which he is Chairman. He is also on the International Advisory Board of the Council for the Parliament of the World’s Religions.

Dr. Doty also writes for The Huffington Post. He is the author of Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart (Penguin, 2016).

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Emma Seppala, PhD

Emma Seppala, PhD

Science Director, CCARE


Emma Seppala
, Ph.D. is Science Director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University. Her areas of research include positive organizational psychology, health psychology, and cultural psychology. In particular her research has focused on well-being, compassion, social connection and mind-body practices. She is a frequent contributor to Harvard Business Review, Psychology Today, The Huffington Post, and Scientific American Mind.  She also consults with Fortune 500 leaders and employees on building a positive organization and is the author of an upcoming book on the science of success, The Happiness Track, published by HarperOne (January 2016). She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Fulfillment Daily, a news site dedicated to the science of happiness. Dr. Seppala’s research has been cited in numerous television and news outlets including ABC News and The New York Times  and she is quoted in books such as Congressman Tim Ryan’s Mindful Nation . Her research on mind-body practices for military veterans with trauma was highlighted in a documentary called Free the Mind by award-winning filmmaker Phie Ambo. She is the recipient of a number of research grants and service awards including the James W. Lyons Award from Stanford University, where she helped found Stanford’s first academic class on the psychology of happiness and taught many well-being programs for Stanford students. Dr. Seppala received a B.A in Comparative Literature from Yale University, a Master’s Degree in East Asian Languages and Cultures from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. in Psychology from Stanford University. She completed her postdoctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with Dr. Richard Davidson. Originally from Paris, France, she speaks five languages: French, English, German, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. Outside of her experiences in the US, she has worked in France and China. For more, see her website.

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Kelly Haehnel

Kelly Haehnel

Administrative Associate, CCARE

Kelly received her Bachelor of Science degree from Boston University and has worked in academic administration at the Stanford School of Medicine since 2007. She has a long-standing interest in psychology and more recently became intrigued with the emerging field of positive psychology after taking classes on mindfulness, compassion, forgiveness and willpower. She first learned about CCARE’s work in 2010 after attending the scientific symposium which presented progress on compassion research to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, CCARE’s founding benefactor. Having been inspired to contribute to the Center’s mission, Kelly joined CCARE and provides a range of programmatic and administrative support.

Dong Nguyen

Dong Nguyen

Research and Administrative Associate, CCARE

Dong received both her B.A. in Psychology and her M.A. in Experimental Psychology at San Jose State University. She is a former Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) as well as McNair scholar working in the Stress and Aging Laboratory within the Psychology Department. She became Lab Manager when the lab transitioned from rodent research to humans, renamed the International Neuroeconomics Institute (INI). Dong’s research interests focused on the various effects of both physical and psychosocial stress on cognitive performance, taking into consideration variables such as social support, gender, personality, and more. Her wide interests in many disciplines, especially psychology and biology, prompted her search for opportunities in which she is able to expand her knowledge, and at the same time, contribute to science and help people in any way, shape, or form. Her journey has, so far, led her to Stanford’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, where she hopes to learn more about the globally expanding science of compassion in every facet of daily life and help the Center achieve its mission to understand the science of compassion and share that knowledge with others.

Jessica Waala

Jessica Waala

Research and Outreach Associate, CCARE

Jessica received her B.A. degree in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she graduated with Distinction. There, she was nominated to the National Society of Collegiate Scholars for academic excellence and dedicated her time to service with the organization. In 2011, she became involved with UW-Madison’s YESplus organization, where she discovered meditation, yoga, and breathing techniques. Through the organization and the practices, she has developed a deep understanding of social connection, compassion, and service. She is passionate about spreading these values and techniques and currently assists in facilitating YESplus workshops at Stanford.  In 2012, she helped create a new student group, Wisconsin Without Borders Marketplace, a fair trade organization that supports women artisans around the world and their communities. Currently, she is Managing Editor of Fulfillment Daily, an online well-being science magazine, inspiring and helping others to live a happier, healthier, and more fulfilling life.

She is also trilingual in American Sign Language, English, and Spanish and this gift of languages has made her particularly sensitive to the need for compassion and mutual understanding in the world.

CCARE is a place where she feels she can live her truth and is inspired to carry out CCARE’s mission as one of the Center’s Research and Outreach Associates.