Nalanda Institute faculty

Faculty: Directors

Joe Loizzo

Joseph (Joe) Loizzo, MD, PhD, is a Harvard-trained psychiatrist and Columbia-trained Buddhist scholar with over forty years’ experience studying the beneficial effects of contemplative practices on healing, learning and development. He is Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry in Integrative Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, where he researches and teaches contemplative self-healing and optimal health. He has taught the philosophy of science and religion, the scientific study of contemplative states, and the Indo-Tibetan mind and health sciences at Columbia University, where he is Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Columbia Center for Buddhist Studies.

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In 1998, Dr. Loizzo opened the Center for Meditation and Healing at Columbia University’s Presbyterian Hospital, the first mind/body medical center in a major academic department of psychiatry, and the first in the West to offer programs in stress-reduction, self-healing, and lifestyle change integrating compassion practice, role-modeling imagery, and advanced breath-control skills with basic mindfulness and yoga.

The Center for Meditation and Healing joined the Center for Integrative Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in 2003, to better test and refine the effectiveness of programs. Dr. Loizzo founded Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science two years later, to make these programs more available to professionals and the public at large. In 2007, the Institute was incorporated in New York State as a not-for-profit educational foundation. Since then, its programs and community have been steadily evolving to meet the exponentially growing demand for neuroscientifically informed training in contemplative practices and their integration into contemporary healthcare, business, education, and daily life. Beyond the Compassion-Based Resilience Training (CBRT) and Contemplative Self-Healing Program (CSHP) offered since 1998 at New York Presbyterian Hospital, the Institute’s main programs include its comprehensive Four-Year Sustainable Happiness Program, its historic international Contemplative Psychotherapy Program, its cutting-edge Mindful Business & Leadership Program, and its popular Mindful Families & Schools Program. The Institute’s contemplative teacher training programs include Meditation Teacher Training in Mindfulness and Loving-Kindness, and Yoga, Mind, & Spirit Advanced Yoga Teacher Training.

Raised in Switzerland and educated in a Marianist Catholic boy’s school in New York, Dr. Loizzo was graduated summa cum laude in Independent Study from Amherst College. He completed his medical studies at New York University and his post-graduate training in psychiatry at Harvard’s Cambridge Hospital. His Columbia Ph.D. is in Indo-Tibetan Studies. He also holds an M.F.A. from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers.

His academic honors include phi beta kappa; the Father Chaminade Awards for English and Religion; the first Mosely Prize in Philosophy and Religion; the Herman Wortis Prize in Neuropsychiatry and Medicine; a Mellon Faculty Fellowship in Indo-Tibetan Studies; and a Columbia University President’s Fellowship in the Scientific Study of Religion.

Beyond his teaching at Harvard, UC Davis, Columbia, and Cornell, Dr. Loizzo has lectured internationally on the health benefits of contemplative practices to a wide range of professional and public audiences. He gives frequent talks at Tibet House US on his work weaving humanity’s timeless contemplative sciences and healing arts into modern medicine, psychotherapy, leadership, and education.

Dr. Loizzo’s research has taken him from Harvard’s Mind/Body Medical Institute and Cambridge Hospital westward to the Psychiatry Training Program at UC Davis, and eastward to Drepung Monastic University in India. Now at the Weill Cornell Center for Integrative Medicine, he has completed four studies on the impact of mindfulness, compassion, imagery, and breath-control skills on the lives of women recovering from breast cancer. The positive findings of these studies–marked reductions in stress, traumatic avoidance, and intrusive thinking combined with clear gains in social-emotional functioning and quality of life—have been published in peer-reviewed journals including Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, and Biomed Central.

Beyond his clinical research, Dr. Loizzo has published numerous scientific articles and scholarly chapters on contemplative approaches to psychotherapy, leadership, and education, the role of contemplative self-healing in healthcare, and the Nalanda tradition of mind and health science. This includes seven review articles on contemplative neuropsychiatry and psychotherapy published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, the American Psychiatric Association Press, and Oxford University Press. His translation study, Nagarjuna’s Reason Sixty with Candrakirti’s Commentary, was one of the inaugural volumes in the American Institute of Buddhist Studies Translation Series distributed by the Columbia University Press.

Dr. Loizzo’s comprehensive textbook, Sustainable Happiness: The Mind Science Of Well-Being, Altruism, and Inspiration was published by Routledge in 2012. He is executive editor of Advances in Contemplative Psychotherapy: Accelerating Healing and Transformation, a groundbreaking collection of essays by pioneers of a fast-emerging and highly promising new field (Routledge, 2017). The meditation manuals and CD’s used in his programs on stress, healing and life-change are available through the Nalanda Institute.

Dr. Loizzo lives in Manhattan with his wife Gerardine and sons, Maitreya Dante and Ananda Rowan, where he maintains a private practice of contemplative psychotherapy.

Founder & Director: Nalanda Institute. Co-Director: Contemplative Psychotherapy. Director: Compassion-Based Resilience Training; Meditation Teacher Training. Core Faculty: all programs.


Geri Loizzo

Geri Loizzo is Nalanda Institute’s Director of Programming and Director of the Mindful Families & Schools Program. She is also a meditation faculty member and has served on the Institute’s board of directors since 2007. She’s had a regular practice of Hatha Yoga since 1982 and since 2006 has studied with Nalanda Institute Yoga Faculty, Mary Reilly Nichols. In addition, Loizzo has been studying and practicing Tibetan meditation since 1999, and has been leading weekly morning meditations at the Institute since 2011. Her mentors include Khyabje Gelek Rimpoche, Venerable Robina Courtin, and Kathleen McDonald.

Director of Programming: Nalanda Institute. Director: Mindful Families & Schools. Coordinator: Yoga, Mind & Spirit. Core Faculty: Sustainable Happiness. Meditation Faculty.


Emily J. Wolf

Emily J. Wolf, PhD, is a counseling psychologist in private practice integrating contemplative methods of Indian yoga and meditation into Western psychodynamic therapy, recovery, and health psychology. She also is the Director of Nalanda Institute’s Contemplative Psychotherapy Program, deeply invested in training care providers in the healing modalities of Buddhist traditions. Dr. Wolf received her BA in Eastern Religion from Columbia College, PhD in Counseling Psychology from Fordham University, and has studied under Tibetan Buddhist and Hatha Yoga/Ashtanga yoga masters both in the United States and Asia for over a decade. She is co-editor and contributing author of Advances in Contemplative Psychotherapy: Accelerating Healing and Transformation (2017).

Director: Contemplative Psychotherapy. Core Faculty: Contemplative Psychotherapy, Compassion-Based Resilience Training. Visiting Faculty: Sustainable Happiness.


Elazar Aslan

Elazar Aslan, MBA, CPC, is an executive advisor able to integrate his successful career as an executive and an entrepreneur with his own contemplative practice to provide sustainable solutions to clients inspired by the neuroscience and wisdom behind mindfulness. He received his B.S. in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, where he also completed his M.B.A. at the Wharton School. Elazar also has CPC certification from the International Coaching Federation and is a Certified Energy Leadership Practitioner from the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching. Additionally, he has 15 years experience as an executive in Fortune 100 companies, 10 years experience as an entrepreneur growing a strategic marketing agency to $86MM in capitalized billings, and has been a certified professional coach for 10 years. Current projects include being founder of A Day of Kindness in Philadelphia, President of the Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia, and a NICS board member.

Director: Mindful Business & Leadership. Core Faculty: Mindful Business & Leadership.


Mary Reilly Nichols

Mary Reilly Nichols, is the Director of Nalanda Institute’s Yoga, Mind & Spirit and has been teaching yoga for over 30 years. She specializes in yoga with an emphasis on the development of wisdom and experience through the lens of non-duality offered in the Upanishads, Advaita Vedanta, as well as in the Tantric methods of Kashmiri Shaivism and Kundalini Yoga. She holds a BA in anthropology from Harvard University, is a devoted student of Muktananda, and completed five years of residency in meditation ashrams in both India and the US. Currently, Nichols teaches stress management in psychiatric settings and is involved in ongoing research on the mind/body benefits of yoga and meditation.

Director: Yoga, Mind & Spirit. Core Faculty: Yoga, Mind & Spirit; Sustainable Happiness. Meditation Faculty.