Past Research at LACH

Colorful fractal design
The role of the Laboratory for Advances in Consciousness and Health (LACH) has evolved over the last three decades.
A common thread running through the years of research at LACH is that scientific reasoning, supplemented by experimental evidence, can lead us to worlds of new understanding about previously unexplored areas. We accomplish this by creatively and responsibly applying mainstream scientific methods to frontier questions in consciousness and health.

The VERITAS Research Program of the Laboratory for Advances in Consciousness and Health (formerly the Human Energy Systems Laboratory) in the Department of Psychology at the University of Arizona was created primarily to test the hypothesis that the consciousness (or personality or identity) of a person survives physical death.

In January 2008, the post-doctoral fellowship position of VERITAS Research Program Co-Director Julie Beischel, PhD, was completed. Dr. Beischel continues to perform survival and mediumship research as well as medium certification at the Windbridge Institute for Applied Research in Human Potential. Directed by Dr. Beischel, the Windbridge Institute has more freedom and flexibility in the direction and scope of research than is possible within the University system.

In January of 2008, the VERITAS Research Program, as it existed prior to 2008, was closed and the research was expanded into a broader, more comprehensive, spiritual communication project named the SOPHIA Research Program. In June, 2006, funding was obtained to create the SOPHIA Research Program, directed by Dr. Gary Schwartz.

The SOPHIA Research Program investigated claims of communication processes involving various spiritual levels, from deceased individuals, through guides and angels, to purported communication with a higher power or divinity. Its focus was on healing and life-enhancement. The IRB research approval process was completed in the summer of 2007 for the first major experiment.

KCOHRP was directed by Dr. Melinda H. Connor, a Clinical Psychologist with additional training in neuropsychology. She has been an energy healer in professional practice since 1987 and came to LACH as the recipient of an NIH sponsored T32 post doctoral fellowship health grant through the Department of Integrative Medicine under Andrew Weil, MD.

The mission of the program was to find the mechanisms of action in energy healing, miracle healing and the healing process of the human body, and the vision was to support the health and healing of all the peoples of the earth through research, education and information distribution. Each research study conducted through this program was undertaken with those goals in mind.

KCOHRP research included:

  • Demographics of Energy Healers in the US
  • Styles of non-Reiki Energy Healing Practiced in the US
  • Baseline Testing of Energy Healers
  • Assessment of Reiki Practitioners using the Triaxial ELF Magnetic Field Meter
  • Laser perfusion Imaging of Energy Healers' Hands
  • Dosage effect of energy healing on plant leaves
  • Effects of QiGong toward strengthening antiviral effectiveness on AIDS patients
  • Case Study of Exceptional Healing in Spinal Paraplegia
  • Demographic Assessment of codes of ethics supported by Reiki Practitioners

From 2003 - 2007, LACH was an interdisciplinary center funded by NCCAM (National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine) from NIH (National Institutes of Health). The team of scientists participating in the center included biophysicists, biostatisticians, psychophysiologists, research physicians (including surgeons and psychiatrists), PhD nurses, and research-oriented healers.

LACH conducted a series of experiments examining the effects of Reiki, Johrei, and other energy healing techniques on e coli bacteria, biophoton emission in plants, microvascular leakage in rats, and patients recovering from cardiac surgery. Though some of our experiments allowed for carefully controlled double-blind designs, the findings were again too controversial for mainstream journals. Our findings were published in peer reviewed journals including Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine and Journal of Scientific Exploration.

The findings from CFMBS were summarized in The Energy Healing Experiments: Science Reveals Our Natural Power to Heal (Atrial / Simon & Schuster, 2007).

From the mid-1990 through 2003, this lab conducted research in the potential role of energy in psychology and medicine.

Seven factors contributed to transformation of the former Human Energy Systems Laboratory (HESL) to the Laboratory for Advances in Consciousness and Health (LACH):

  1. Dr. Gary Schwartz had a long standing interest in the topic of consciousness, especially the evolution of consciousness. Previous courses he has taught that discussed advances in consciousness include "Biopersonality and the Mind of Man" in the early 1970s (Harvard University), "Consciousness and Self-Regulation" and "Psychology and Human Evolution" in the 1980's (Yale University), and the "Psychology of Religion and Spirituality" in the late 1990's (University of Arizona). Moreover, he co-edited a series of three research volumes on Consciousness and Self-Regulation: Advances in Theory and Research when he was at Harvard and Yale, and he has published a set of papers on world hypotheses, evolving scientific paradigms, and the nature of human conception and understanding at the University of Arizona (e.g., Schwartz and Schloss, 2006).
  2. Research conducted originally in the HESL and continued in the NIH-funded Center for Frontier Medicine in Biofield Science (CFMBS) addressed controversial questions that required changes, if not radical transformations, in consciousness. These controversial topics included the role of conscious intention in energy medicine and healing, and the possibility of survival of consciousness after physical death. HESL evolved into LACH to formally address the question of advances in consciousness; the CFMBS was continued within one of the eight primary research programs (i.e., the Consciousness and Health Research Program) to maintain NIH-related research.
  3. Dr. Schwartz's book The G.O.D. Experiments: How Science Is Discovering God In Everything, Including Us addresses the question of the potential role of a universal intelligent consciousness - in this case a "guiding-organizing-designing" consciousness (described also as an "infinite consciousness") - in the evolution of the Universe, including humanity. The integrative concept of "intelligent evolution" is developed at length in this book. Professor Schwartz joined the Ethology and Evolutionary Psychology Program (directed by Professor A.J. Figueredo) within the Department of Psychology to become part of a community of evolution-oriented psychologists and cognitive neuroscientists. Advances in neurotheology were addressed in this context.
  4. Dr. Schwartz was asked by Professor Alfred Kaszniak, former Head of the Psychology Department, to teach the large "The Psychology of Consciousness" course beginning in the fall of 2006. Between this fall course and his other two courses that he taught in the spring, "The Psychology of Religion and Spirituality" and "Advanced Health Psychology," he had the capacity to conduct research on the evolution of consciousness in college students as part of his undergraduate teaching.
  5. From time to time, Dr. Schwartz had witnessed unfortunate negative consequences that occur when specific individuals - or groups of individuals - failed to focus on accuracy and integrity. A small group of people, including a few professional skeptics (people who are paid for their skeptical opinions) and mediums (people who claim to speak with the deceased), made demonstrably false statements concerning some of the research findings and practices in the former HESL. Their lack of accuracy and integrity served as a reminder that systematic research is needed at multiple levels that is devoted to responsibility to truth and the evolution of healthy human relationships. LACH provided a responsible forum in which to conduct systematic research on pathological skepticism, illusory correlates, and self-deception in science, society, and human relationships. The Evolution of Consciousness Research Program within LACH included the topic of "responsibility to truth."
  6. A number of individuals with potential research funding resonated strongly with the new title and focus of LACHLACH became a credible and innovative academic structure in which to place and foster some of the most visionary and potentially paradigm-changing topics in consciousness science (and science in general), including the intelligent evolution hypothesis, the possibility of survival of consciousness after death, and the "other worldly intelligence" hypothesis.
  7. Finally, a number of integrative scientists and clinicians within the University of Arizona (as well as nationally and internationally) voiced a need to create an academic home as a responsible forum for addressing the evolution and transformation of human consciousness. The goal was to foster research concerning the advancement and evolution of science, health care, and society. LACH complemented the University of Arizona's Center for Consciousness Studies as well as its Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine by providing a mainstream yet frontier laboratory environment to foster this research.

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”

- Marie Curie, Physicist, Chemist, and Nobel Prize Recipient