The Institute for Spirituality and Health at the Texas Medical Center and Board of Trustees Appoints Stuart Nelson as President

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HOUSTON, Texas (Dec. 05, 2023) — Stuart C. Nelson has been appointed as president and chief executive officer of The Institute for Spirituality and Health at the Texas Medical Center by the Institute’s Board of Trustees. Established in 1955, the Institute is an independent, interfaith organization dedicated to its mission of enhancing well-being by exploring the relationship between spirituality and health.
Prior to this appointment, Nelson had been serving as acting president since July 2022. After completing an internship at the Institute in 2011, he joined full time in 2012 as a project manager, serving in several leadership roles before being promoted to executive vice president in 2021.

“As a Board of Trustees, we wanted to make sure that we were thoughtful and strategic as we made this important decision for the future of the Institute. I am proud to say that we are confident in our decision beyond a shadow of a doubt,” said George Anderson, chair of the Institute’s Board of Trustees.

Nelson supports the Institute’s staff and Board of Trustees in developing and implementing programs and initiatives that bridge religion, spirituality, health, and healing in a variety of contexts. He also works closely with the staff and Board of Trustees to support development and operational priorities.

“I am so pleased that Stuart Nelson will follow me as president of our beloved Institute for Spirituality and Health. The transition has been smooth, and he has already used his personal, organizational, creative, and technological skills to move the Institute forward. I believe he will continue to be a blessing,” commented John K. Graham, MD, DMin, the Institute’s president emeritus, who retired in June 2022.
Nelson is passionate about bridging theory and practice, weaving together work in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities to improve healthcare delivery and community-based health programs. Exploring the intersection of religious and spiritual orientation and mental health, he pioneered the Meaning Systems Interview and the Courage to Search, which are designed to help individuals consider and articulate their most important experiences and deeply held beliefs toward flourishing. In addition, he co-created the Faith and Diabetes Initiative, which taps into the power of faith communities to address the growing epidemic of chronic diseases. His work has earned him numerous awards, recognitions, and guest speakerships.

“Over the past 12 years, my journey with the Institute has been incredibly rewarding. I am thankful for countless opportunities to grow with the Institute personally and professionally, and I am deeply committed to continuing to advance our mission,” commented Nelson.
Nelson, a native of Houston, lived as a child and teenager in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, attending international primary and secondary schools. These experiences equipped him with a global perspective and instilled in him a deeper appreciation and understanding of religious and cultural traditions.

Nelson earned three Bachelor of Arts degrees in cognitive science, religious studies, and psychology from Rice University. He also completed a Master of Arts degree in religious studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara, where he focused on understanding religious identity through the lens of the scientific study of human cognition.
Focusing his dissertation on the relationship between the natural environment and psycho-spiritual transformation, Nelson is now pursuing a doctoral degree in Mind-Body Medicine from Saybrook University.
Nelson has served on the boards and advisory councils of the Foundation for Contemporary Theology, Houston Audubon, Compassionate Houston, and the Hines Center for Spirituality and Prayer. He is certified as a yoga teacher at the RYT200 level and is an Integrative Health and Wellness Coach.

“I am honored to build upon the legacy of the Institute’s past leadership, especially that of Dr. John Graham. As we move the Institute into a new chapter, our team will further advance our work within our four Centers of Excellence. We will focus on evidence-informed decision-making, collaboration, operational excellence, thought leadership, and our mission. My vision is to expand the Institute’s footprint while sustaining our long history of programmatic excellence,” Nelson added.

About The Institute
The Institute for Spirituality and Health at the Texas Medical Center is an independent interfaith organization established in 1955. A founding member of the world-renowned Texas Medical Center, the Institute has made a meaningful difference by cultivating heart and humanity in healthcare for nearly seven decades.

The mission of The Institute for Spirituality and Health is to enhance well-being by exploring the relationship between spirituality and health. The Institute advances this mission by engaging in education, research, and direct service programs, guided by its four centers of excellence: the Rabbi Samuel E. Karff Center for Healthcare Professionals, the Center for Body, Spirit, and Mind, the Center for End of Life and Aging, and the Center for Faith and Public Health.

For more information about The Institute, visit

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