The DHARMA Initiative ( Department of Heuristics And Research on Material Applications Initiative) is a fictional research project featured in the American television series, Lost.
Most of what is currently known about the DHARMA Initiative comes from an orientation film, found inside an underground bunker on the island, that outlines the purpose and instructions for Station 3: The Swan. The film has a copyright date of 1980 and is designated as the third of six such films.
It states that the Initiative was founded in 1970 by University of Michigan doctoral candidates Karen and Gerald DeGroot and financed by the Hanso Foundation, apparently composed of a group of "scientists and free thinkers" from around the world who were brought together at a "large-scale communal research compound" on the island to conduct research in various disciplines, including meteorology, psychology, parapsychology, zoology, electromagnetism, and a sixth discipline that the film begins to identify as "utopian social . . . ." before being cut off.
The DHARMA Initiative has placed several research stations around the island, which take the form of hidden, underground facilities or bunkers. The first to be discovered by the survivors is "Station 3" or "The Swan" which they refer to informally as "the hatch" and have since occupied. Three additional stations have since been visited: "The Pearl," "The Arrow," and "The Staff."
"The DHARMA Initiative was created in 1970, and is the brainchild of Gerald and Karen DeGroot."