Dr Luis Portela (left), chairman of Bial (Portugal’s largest pharmaceutical group), has a strong interest in parapsychology. In 1994 he set up the Bial Foundation whose mission is ‘to foster the scientific study of the human being from both the physical and spiritual perspectives’. In practice, the Bial Foundation funds ‘largely unexplored’ areas of psychophysiology, and parapsychology, and is currently parapsychology’s most important funder.
In 20 years, the Bial Foundation has awarded over 500 research scholarships (each from €5000 to €50,000 to researchers across 25 countries. This includes over 200 awards for parapsychological projects.
In addition to its scholarship scheme, the Bial Foundation organises bi-annual themed symposia that include keynote addresses from international experts in neuroscience, parapsychology, and psychophysiology, as well as presentations and poster sessions from Bial Fellows. Dick Bierman (Uni of Amsterdam) and I are the two parapsychologists on the symposium organising committee. You can see the published proceedings of the first ten Symposia here.
The 2016 Bial Symposium, the 11th, is on the theme of placebo, healing and meditation – a fertile topic for cross-fertilisation between parapsychology, psychophysiology and neuroscience. The Bial Foundation has just announced the details of this symposium. The keynote address for the opening session is Irving Kirsch (Harvard, USA), entitled the “The emperor’s new drugs: medication and placebo in the treatment of depression”. Find out more here.