For the month of October UW Tacoma will be home to Dr. Barry Kerzin, physician to the 14th Dalai Lama. Kerzin will lead a number of talks on different subjects including compassion, meditation, and mindfulness.
The 68-year-old was born in Hollywood, California. Kerzin’s interest in the nature of existence and the meaning of life can be traced back to childhood. At age 11 he had a brain abscess that nearly killed him. This experience, combined with Kerzin’s natural curiosity, led him to get both a bachelor’s in philosophy and later, a medical degree.
Kerzin’s personal life has been marred by tragedy. He lost both his mother and wife to cancer within a few years of each other. Not long after, Kerzin left the US and spent a year traveling in India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. He returned and became an assistant professor in the UW School of Medicine.
Four years into his time at UW, Kerzin took a six month leave of absence. He went back to India, to Dharamsala—his home to this day. The Dalai Lama had put out a call for Western physicians to train Tibetan doctors in modern research methods. Kerzin volunteered his services.
Kerzin has spent much of the past 27 years providing free medical care not only to the Dalai Lama but also to the poor in Dharamsala. He’s also participated in research studies hosted by the University of Wisconsin and Princeton University into the effects of meditation on the brain.
The Dalai Lama ordained Kerzin as a Buddhist monk in the mid-2000s. In years past Kerzin used to try to separate his life as a monk from his life as a doctor, but not anymore. He doesn’t see the ideas as in competition which is why he’s comfortable with the moniker of “scientist monk.”
John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or firstname.lastname@example.org