Just announced: Details of 2016 Bial Foundation Symposium

luisportelaresizedDr 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.

About Caroline Watt

Prof Caroline Watt is a founder member of the Koestler Parapsychology Unit.
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2 Responses to Just announced: Details of 2016 Bial Foundation Symposium

  1. Scott Scribner says:

    I think there is a provocative tension inherent in relating parapsychology and ‘spirituality’. In spite of how strong feelings run in both realms, parapsychology strives for the ‘Weltbild’ perspective of science, whereas spirituality partakes of the ‘Weltanschauung’ perspective of seeking a way of life. While these two contexts influence each other in complex ways, we need to avoid confusing methods that are appropriate only to one or the other.


  2. The precise meaning of ‘spiritual’ is perhaps difficult to pin down in this context since it is translated from Portuguese. I think the Foundation aims to support the strictly scientific exploration of potential aspects of human capabilities that are currently not well understood.


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