About Dr. Brown
Trained in general and internal medicine, psychiatry, and clinical research, Dr. Stuart Brown enjoyed a playful childhood and the benefit of growing up in an era when children, when they weren’t in school or asleep, lived their lives independently engaged in play with their peers. As an adult, he pioneered studies on the importance of play through research on homicidal young males, and felony drunk drivers, finding a startling common thread in their stories: serious lack of play in childhood.
As his career progressed through roles as Asst Professor of Psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine, Fellow in Psychiatric Research at Harvard’s McLean Hospital, Chief of Psychiatry at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center, and an Associate Professor at UCSD School of Medicine in San Diego, CA, Dr. Brown believed that play could be the key to discovering the full potential that is in everyone, but also that defining “play” would require more in-depth understanding of its essential nature. He was surprised that much of the play-related research he reviewed was fragmented and siloed. He also noted the absence of quantitative confirmation of clinical observations, not to mention a scientific and evidence-based way of understanding, and suggesting, how to improve play and give us all permission to play more.
Over his career, he documented thousands of in-depth personal play profiles irrefutably demonstrating the negative emotional and multi-sensory consequences associated with a play-deprived life. In addition, this work also confirmed that the active presence of ongoing play is present in the accomplishments of the very successful.
In 1989, upon leaving clinical medicine, he decided to pursue play in even greater depth. To gain insights, Dr. Brown turned to animal play research. Working with the National Geographic Society and Jane Goodall, he became acquainted with the premier animal play experts in the world, observed animal play in the wild, and began to understand play as a long-evolved behavior important for the well-being and survival of all animals. As a result of his extensive studies, Dr. Brown came to understand that humans are uniquely designed to enjoy and participate in play throughout life and launched the organization, the National Institute for Play, to promote the integral role play has in human development and overall well-being. He has written and lectured about play in numerous public and scholarly forums, has directed and produced several documentaries and learning series about play and similar topics for CBS, PBS, and BBC, and written the book Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul.
About the National Institute for Play
The National Institute for Play (NIFP) is a 501c(3) non-profit public benefit corporation committed to bringing the unrealized knowledge, practices, and benefits of play into public life. It is gathering research from diverse play scientists and practitioners, initiating projects to expand the clinical scientific knowledge of human play and translating this emerging body of knowledge into programs and resources which deliver the transformative power of play to all segments of society, so that people of all ages and abilities understand why remaining playful for life is critical for health and happiness. The National Institute for Play is led by its founder, Dr. Stuart Brown., a Board of Directors with extensive experience in the business, academic, professional sports and non-profit sectors, and a Council of Advisors consisting of distinguished, multidisciplinary scientists and play practitioners.