James R. Doty

James R. Doty, M.D. is a Professor in the Neurosurgery Department at Stanford University School of Medicine and the Founder and Director of the Stanford Center for Compassion and Altruism Research (CCARE) of which His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the founding benefactor. He is a Fellow of both the American College of Surgeons and the International College of Surgeons. He served 9 years on active duty service in the U.S. Army.

Dr. Doty is an inventor and an entrepreneur, holding a number of patents on devices that are used on patients around the world. He maintains a broad neurosurgical interest and is one of the pioneers in the use of stereotactic radiosurgery utilizing the CyberKnife. He is an expert in the surgical treatment of benign and malignant tumors of the brain and spinal cord and has published extensively in the areas of spine and stereotactic radiosurgery.

For the last several years, his interest has focused on understanding the neural basis of compassion and altruism. He collaborates with a number of scientists in a variety of disciplines including neuroscience and psychology at Stanford and multiple universities throughout the world. He is the Senior Editor of the Oxford Handbook of Compassion Science.

As a philanthropist. Dr. Doty has supported health clinics throughout the world and groundbreaking neuroscience research. He has endowed chairs at multiple universities including Stanford and the chair for the Dean of Tulane Medical School, his alma mater.

He is the New York Times bestselling author of “Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon's Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart” which has now been translated into 36 languages.

3 words to describe Nature?

Awe. Joy. Inspiration

3 things Nature taught you?



The ability for renewal

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Redwood forests

San Juan Islands


When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel...?


When you see a forest, it makes you feel...?

Infinite possibilities

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel...?


When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel...?


When you hear thunder, it makes you feel...?

How we must respect nature

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel...?


Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?


On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?


Share with us a childhood nature memory?

I had just learned to swim and my parents took the family to a lake surrounded by redwoods. I remember my hesitancy stepping into the water, how cold it felt and then I started to swim and I swam across the lake. I never felt more powerful or alive then in that moment.