Janet Gyatso is a Religious Studies scholar currently employed as the Hershey Professor of Buddhist Studies and the Associate Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs at Harvard Divinity School. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Gyatso's research interests are in Buddhism and its relationship to Tibetan and South Asian civilizations.
Gyatso attended the University of California at Berkeley for her BA, MA and PhD. She received her PhD in 1981 in the department of South and Southeast Asian Languages and Literatures [at Berkeley,] with a dissertation on Thangtong Gyalpo and the visionary tradition of Tibetan Buddhism  Prior to her PhD, she completed her Master of Arts in 1974 in Sanskrit, and her Bachelor of Arts in 1972 in Religious studies at Berkeley.
Gyatso currently teaches at Harvard Divinity School and has taught with Harvard since 2001. She is the first Hershey Professor of Buddhist Studies at Harvard's Divinity School and is the Associate Dean of Faculty and Academic Affairs. Prior to teaching at Harvard, Gyatso taught at Amherst College (between 1987-2001), the University of Michigan (Spring 1999) and Wesleyan University (1986–87; Spring 1988).
From 2000-2006, Gyatso held the position of president of the International Association of Tibetan Studies. From 2004-2010, she was co-chair of the Buddhism Section of the American Academy of Religion.
Gyatso is known for her work on Tibet, primarily through text analysis and has focused on the twelfth to eighteenth centuries, examining the introduction of Buddhism to Tibet and its eventual status as mainstream in Tibet. Her first monograph explored the writing of autobiography in Tibet, and translated and analysed one of its most beautiful examples, the visionary journals of 'Jigs med gling pa (Apparitions of the Self, Princeton, 1998). Her more recent book, Being Human in a Buddhist World, studied the relationship between Buddhism and medicine in early modern Tibet. Her work has been credited by Barbara Gerke as helping to develop our understanding of the relationship between science and religion in early modern Tibetan culture.
Gyatso has also edited a book entitled Women in Tibet, a compilation of essays on the topic. Gyatso and her fellow editor Hannah Havnevik put this book together to draw attention to the lack of research in the area of women in Tibet. A previous edited collection by Gyatso was "In the Mirror of Memory" (State University of New York Press, 1992), a study of the types of memory theorized and used in Buddhist practice. Other topics of interest have been the reception of Indian poetic theory in Tibetan literature, the nature of experience in Buddhist thought and practice, Buddhist monasticism, and Buddhist conceptions of sex and gender, including the "third sex." She is currently working on animal ethics.