Stevenson, Greyson, Tucker

Who We Are

Current mainstream science and philosophy portray mind, personality, and consciousness as nothing more than byproducts of brain activity. DOPS strives to challenge this entrenched view by rigorously evaluating empirical evidence that suggests consciousness survives death and the mind is distinct/separable from the brain.

And we are not alone. Growing numbers of people are becoming convinced the prevailing physicalist view is fundamentally flawed and research needs to extend in directions that will accommodate genuine extraordinary experiences without loss of scientific integrity.

Our main purpose is the scientific, empirical investigation of phenomena that suggest currently accepted scientific assumptions and theories about the nature of mind and consciousness, and relationships to physical matter, may be incomplete.

The Division of Perceptual Studies (DOPS) is a research unit within the Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences a University of Virginia’s School of Medicine. Learn more about the people behind this organization by checking out the current Faculty and Staff as well as the non-governing Advisory Board.

History of DOPS

Photo by Edwin Roseberry November, 1979 The Dalai Lama toured the UVA Grounds with Dr. Ian Stevenson, (back left) and Prof. Jeffrey Hopkins (front left). Prof. Hopkins was the Dalai Lama’s official interpreter from 1976 to 1996.

Nov. 1979 – The Dalai Lama toured UVA Grounds with Dr. Ian Stevenson

DOPS was founded in 1967 when Dr. Ian Stevenson resigned as Chairman of the UVA Department of Psychiatry to become both Director of DOPS and Chester F. Carlson Professor of Psychiatry – positions he held for the next 35 years.

Dr. Bruce Greyson, who was a faculty member at DOPS since 1995, became the Director and Carlson Professor of Psychiatry in early 2002. This allowed Dr. Stevenson to focus on writing about his research into cases of the reincarnation type. In September of 2014, Dr. Greyson retired but still continues to research and write about the study of near-death experiences.

After Dr. Greyson’s retirement, Dr. Jim Tucker became the Director and Bonner-Lowry Associate Professor of Psychiatry. Dr. Tucker continues Ian’s work on reincarnation, focusing on children who report memories of previous lives and on American cases in particular. He has written several books on the topic and is the current Director of the Division of Perceptual Studies.

Founder - Dr. Ian Stevenson


Dr. Ian Stevenson standing near the Rotunda on the grounds of the University of Virginia – circa 1970

Ian Stevenson, MD (1918 – 2007) was one of the youngest persons appointed chairman of a psychiatry department, earning the position at UVA when he was only 38.

He was fascinated with anomalous experiences and began conducting research into related phenomena, such as apparitions, near-death experiences, and reincarnation. In 1961, Ian took a trip to the East to study children who reported memories of previous lives.

Chester Carlson sponsored more trips and bequeathed funds for Dr. Stevenson to conduct research full-time. Ian accepted and resigned as Chairman to found DOPS (1967) where he spent several decades expanding on his research.