Associate Professor
Contact Areas of Interest
Garrett, Frances Department for the Study of Religion
170 St George Street, Room 302
Toronto, ON M5R 2M8
t: 416-978-1020
  • Buddhist studies
  • Tibetan Buddhism
  • Buddhism and medical traditions in Asia


Frances Garrett is Associate Professor of Tibetan and Buddhist Studies, and Associate Chair of the Department for the Study of Religion, where she has taught since 2003. Her research focuses on Tibetan religious history and its relations with other forms of Tibetan intellectual and literary culture, especially medicine. Her work has addressed the implications of controversies over human development in Tibetan scholasticism, how Tibetans reconcile medical physiology with Buddhist descriptions of the body, and the formation of intellectual and literary disciplinarity. She has also worked on the Gesar epic, and is now beginning a project focused on contemporary and historical stories about Himalayan mountains, as told by Tibetans, Sherpas, and international mountaineers and pilgrims. She has lived for a number of years in various parts of India, Tibet, and China. Dr. Garrett grew up in Oregon, received a BA in Philosophy from Columbia University in 1989 and a PhD in Religious Studies from the University of Virginia in 2004. At the University of Toronto, she is also a member of the Asian Institute, the Centre for South Asian Studies, and the Knowledge Media Design Institute. She was the 2010-2011 Director of the Religion in the Public Sphere Initiative.

Curriculum Vitae

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Primary Teaching

Undergraduate and graduate level courses on Buddhist Studies, Tibetan Buddhism, and Tibetan language and literature.

Selected Publications


2011  Health, Medicine, and Modernity in Tibetan Contexts, eds. Frances Garrett, Sienna Craig, Mingji Cuomo and Mona Schrempf. International Institute for Tibetan and Buddhist Studies GmbH (Germany).

2008  Religion, Medicine and the Human Embryo in Tibet. Abingdon, Oxon; New York: Routledge. Critical Studies in Buddhism series.

Selected Articles

2011  “Eating Letters in the Tibetan Treasure Tradition.” Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 32 (1-2).

2010  “Tapping the Body’s Nectar: Gastronomy and Incorporation in Tibetan Literature.” History of Religions 49 (3): 300-326.

2009  “The Alchemy of Accomplishing Medicine (sman sgrub): Situating the Yuthok Heart Essence Ritual Tradition.” Journal of Indian Philosophy 37 (3): 207-230.

2008  “Tibetan Buddhist Narratives of the Forces of Creation.” In Imagining The Fetus: The Unborn in Myth, Religion and Culture, eds. Jane Marie Law and Vanessa R. Sasson. Oxford University Press. 107-120.

2008  With Vincanne Adams. “The Three Channels in Tibetan Medical and Religious Texts, including a translation of Tsultrim Gyaltsen’s ‘Treatise on the Three Channels in Tibetan Medicine’.” Traditional South Asian Medicine 8: 86-115.

2007  “Critical Methods in Tibetan Medical Histories.” Journal of Asian Studies 66 (2): 368-387.

2007  “Buddhism and the Historicizing of Medicine in Thirteenth Century Tibet.” Asian Medicine: Tradition and Modernity 2 (2): 204-224.

2005  “Ordering human growth in Tibetan medical and religious embryologies.” In Elizabeth Furdel (ed.)  Textual Healing: Essays on Medieval and Early Modern Medicine,  31-52. Leiden: Brill Publishers.

Research Awards

2011  SSHRC Partnership Development Grant (2011-2014) for “Mapping an Epic: Religion and Healing in Inner Asia”

2010  Jackman Humanities Institute Program for the Arts Grant for “New Voices, New Visions: Documentary Film in Tibet & Burma”

2010  SSHRC Research Development Initiative Grant (2010-2012) for “Gold, Statue, Text: Visualizing Movement in Tibetan History”

2009  SSHRC Image, Text, Sound and Technology Grant (2009-2010) for “Interpreting Visual Representations of Tibetan Ritual”

2008  SSHRC Standard Research Grant (2008-2011) for “Empowering the Medicine”

2008  Jackman Humanities Institute Working Group Grant for “Scholarly Output in a Digital Age”

2006  David Larson Fellowship at the Kluge Center, US Library of Congress (served in 2007-08)

2006  Individual Research Grant, American Academy of Religion

2004  Connaught Support for International Symposia/Colloquia for “Buddhist and Scientific Approaches to Mental Health and Healing”

2004  Connaught New Staff Matching Research Grant, University of Toronto