About Us

David R. Vago, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation 

Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences


David Vago is Director of the Contemplative Neuroscience and Integrative Medicine (CNIM) laboratory in the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC). He is an associate professor in the department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences. He also maintains an appointment as a research associate in the Functional Neuroimaging Laboratory (FNL), Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), Harvard Medical School. He has completed post-doctoral fellowships in the department of Psychiatry at BWH, the Utah Center for Mind-Body Interactions within the University of Utah Medical School, and the Stuart T. Hauser Research Training Program in Biological & Social Psychiatry at Harvard. David has previously held the position of Senior Research Coordinator for the Mind & Life Institute and is currently a Mind and Life Fellow, supporting the Mind and Life mission. 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.


David’s research interests broadly focus on utilizing translational models to identify and characterize neurobiological and psychosocial mechanisms underlying adaptive mind-brain-body interactions and their therapeutic relevance in the context of psychiatric health and chronic pain. Through mixed methods of neuroimaging, predictive computational modeling, neuroendocrine biomarker identification, cognitive-behavioral and first-person phenomenological analyses, David leads a a multi-pronged research program in basic science, clinical trials, intervention development, education, and innovation. 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.


Dr. David Vago presenting at Mind and Life XXX at Sera Jey Monastery, India
Dr. David Vago presenting at Mind and Life XXX at Sera Jey Monastery, India

Poppy L.A. Schoenberg, Ph.D.

Senior Scientist
Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

Poppy has an international and extensive background as a clinical and cognitive neuroscientist, whose extant research seeks to illuminate biological substrates of complex dynamic mind states and brain function associated with mental health, at theoretical (basic science) and applied (translational) levels.  


Poppy spearheads the Neurophysiology Research Program (NRP) at the CNIM, an initiative that seeks to elucidate; (1) neurophysiological working mechanisms of mindfulness-based interventions for a range of clinical conditions; (2) neural substrates, systems, and neurophenomenology, involved in subtle mind states and stages associated with mental training across  various techniques; and (3) design innovation and novel application of neurophysiological brain-computer and brain-brain interface technologies. Extant research deliverables can be found via this link

Dr. Poppy Schoenberg
Dr. Poppy Schoenberg

Resh Gupta, M.S.

Graduate Student

Resh Gupta, M.S., is a doctoral student in the Neuroscience Program of the Vanderbilt Brain Institute at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. She is currently working toward earning her Ph.D.


In 2015, Resh received her B.S. in Neuroscience from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While at the University of Illinois, she conducted research on associative memory in younger and older adults under the direction of Kara Federmeier, Ph.D., at the Cognition and Brain Lab within the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology.


As a graduate student at Vanderbilt University, Resh has conducted research on the short and long-term consequences of proactive interference under the direction of Sean Polyn, Ph.D., at the Computational Memory Lab. She also completed a rotation in Dr. Brandon Ally’s Memory Disorders Research Laboratory, where she examined differences in cognition and brain structure, vasculature and white matter integrity between individuals at-risk or not-at-risk for Alzheimer’s disease.


As a graduate student in the Contemplative Neuroscience and Integrative Medicine Laboratory, Resh is working to determine whether mindfulness-based interventions can modify behavioral and physiological (event-related potentials) markers of attentional bias to threat in clinical populations. Additionally, she is interested in determining whether mindfulness-induced modifications of these markers are associated with improved clinical symptoms. Resh is also investigating other forms of early perceptual and attentional processing in meditative adepts and novices.

Resh Gupta
Resh Gupta

Emily Mohr, M.A.

Research Assistant

 Emily is a research assistant and study coordinator in the Contemplative Neuroscience and Integrative Medicine Laboratory. Emily received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from University of North Carolina Wilmington, and a master’s degree in experimental psychology from Appalachian State University. Her graduate research focused on trauma and its effects on information processing, such as emotion identification, and attentional bias.  

Emily Mohr
Emily Mohr

Contemplative Neuroscience Interns

Ruisi Zhong

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Ruisi is a 3rd year undergraduate student at Vanderbilt University double majoring in neuroscience and computer science. In high school, she conducted research on the activation of ventral subiculum neurons by cued emotional learning in a laboratory at Stony Brook University in New York. After coming to Vanderbilt, she worked with Dr. Dugan in the VUMC Department of Geriatric Medicine on the correlation of inflammation with cytokine markers in patients with major depression. She is now an intern in the CNIM lab, and hopes to integrate her coding skills with her passion for neuroscience. She is also interested in attending medical school after graduation

Rithik Sudhini

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Rithik is a 2nd year undergraduate student at Vanderbilt

Sara Kirschner

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Sara is a 2nd year undergraduate student at Vanderbilt. 

Jeremiah Cox

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 Jeremiah Cox is a 3rd year undergraduate student  at Vanderbilt University majoring in Neuroscience. He is currently a pre-med, planning to attend medical school in 2022. Jeremiah is passionate about all things dealing with the brain and body. He loves fitness, nutrition, and learning about the brain. He  is joining the CNIM lab as an intern to help elucidate the mechanisms behind mindfulness based interventions. 

Keegan Graham Dymoke

Jean Henry

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Jean is 4th year undergraduate at Vanderbilt University majoring in Neuroscience. She is currently a Philosophy Major with a Chemistry minor and is interested in attending medical school. 

Collaborators

Prasanna Parvathaneni, Ph.D.

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Prasanna is a post-doctoral fellow at the NIH doing computational neuromaging methods research. 

Collaborator

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Collaborator bio

Collaborator

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Collaborator bio

engage with Dr. Vago and his team here

Psychology Today Blog: The Science Behind Meditation

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Dr. Vago explains some of the important findings from the extant literature and how it relates to everyday life

10% Happier: Meditation & The Brain Course

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Along with video footage from a visit with Dan Harris and his 10% Happier team to the CNIM Lab and the Osher Center, Dr. Vago guides you through some meditations while also contextualizing the neuroscience supporting those practices

Insight Timer: Self Transformation Through Mindfulness Course and Guided Meditations by Dr. Vago

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Be guided through some short meditations and a course on how the Self can be transformed at the biological level through mindfulness practice

Neuroscience of Meditation Courses

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The CNIM research team provides courses on Neuroscience

Compassion Institute Course Offerings

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The CNIM research team has courses on the Neuroscience of Compassion & Gratitude, Mindfulness, and the Self

Mindfulness for Chronic Low Back Pain

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Dr. Vago provides an 8-week course on mindfulness for chronic low back pain