The Scholars Program supports preeminent, internationally recognized individuals who are pursuing work that promotes an integrative approach to health and wellness. The program makes possible bold, transformative research that is unlikely to receive support from conventional or conservative funders.
Innovation comes from unexpected places. Institute scholars have the freedom and resources to work within their home institutions while benefiting from opportunities to meet with one another. The result is a creative network that fosters collaboration and new ideas, multiplying the impact of the scholars’ engagement in unexpected ways.
Scholars are nominated by our Board of Advisors as well as by national and international leaders from a variety of disciplines. The Institute does not accept unsolicited nominations. Scholars are selected on the basis of their:
1. Expertise and accomplishments in areas of interest to the Institute.
2. Demonstrated ability to think in integrative and innovative terms.
3. Ability to devote time to a chosen project that’s significant to the Institute’s mission.
Current scholars include:
George “Bud” Brainard, PhD
Dr. Brainard has directed the Light Research Program at Thomas Jefferson University since 1984, studying the effects of light on neuroendocrine physiology and circadian regulation in humans. Using the techniques of photobiology, radioimmunoassay, and performance testing, his group has documented how various visible and nonvisible light sources influence both hormonal balance and behavior. Current efforts are elucidating the action spectrum of melatonin regulation, investigating the phase shifting capacities of light, studying the influence of light on tumor progression, and testing new light treatment devices for winter depression.
In 2010, the American Society of Photobiology honored Dr. Brainard with the Research Award for Excellence in Photobiology, Photochemistry and Photophysics. The Award was given in recognition of more than three decades of work in these arenas.
From Photons to Human Health – Exploring the Power of Light
Scientific Background: Light is a profound universal force. Over millennia, light has been rightfully recognized and studied as the principal stimulus for the visual system. In contrast, it is only during the past 50 years, that light has been appreciated as a primary stimulus for circadian regulation in birds, rodents and various cold-blooded species. Approximately 30 years ago, the first studies emerged showing that light can be a potent neuroendocrine and circadian stimulus in humans. That early human work led directly to randomized controlled trials testing light as a therapeutic stimulus for both clinical and nonclinical applications. In the past decade it has been shown that the human eye contains two discrete sensory systems, one primarily for vision and one primarily for biological and behavioral effects. Despite this recent progress, mankind still may be harnessing only a small fraction of the capacity of light and its component wavelengths to produce beneficial effects to our species in medical applications as well as in the everyday day lives of healthy people.
Within the TIIH Scholars Program, I propose to push the boundaries of research on light and the pineal gland beyond the simple pursuit of basic empirical studies that discern fundamental underlying neurophysiology or our current experimental translational work. Instead, I would first revisit my roots by exploring the spiritual and mystical links between light and the pineal gland. After those endeavors, I plan to focus on the more specific fields of color psychology, color therapy and syntonic optometry.
In the next phase of my involvement in the TIIH Scholars Program, I would expand my activities to include laying the groundwork for a specific experimental project. For example, two logical areas that could be feasibly developed include designing studies for: (1) a controlled pilot clinical trial on syntonic optometry, or (2) wavelength studies related to prostate cancer tumorigenesis.
Fred Foote, MD, CAPT, MC, USN (Ret.)
Fred Foote, MD is Adjunct Assistant Professor, Health Services Administration, The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD. Capt. Foote leads a major initiative called the Epidaurus Project which works to integrate whole-person medicine and conventional healthcare within the Military Health System. Over the next two years, Dr. Foote will prepare a series of articles, and ultimately a book-length manuscript, describing the concepts of holistic care under the Epidaurus formulation.
Key to the Institute’s decision to support Capt. Foote’s proposal is his intention that the book be both “a manual for medical students constructing their general concepts of medicine, and as a resource for residents and fellows in Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and integrative medicine.” Capt. Foote’s writing will be geared to fully informing military leaders of the landmark medical achievements represented by the establishment of integrative care for wounded warriors. As effective practices become grounded in the large Military Health System, they have the potential to be recognized and spread within civilian health care settings.
Richard Hammerschlag, PhD
Dr. Hammerschlag brings a broad range of interests and experience to TIIH, after long careers in biomedical research as well as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) research.
His doctorate in biochemistry from Brandeis University launched 25 years of research in neurobiology, mainly at the Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope in Duarte, California, where he served as Associate Chair of the Division of Neurosciences from 1986 – 1995.
A long term interest in acupuncture and the unique challenges it poses for research led to a career change in 1995, when Dr. Hammerschlag became Academic Dean and Research Director at Yo San University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Santa Monica, CA. He moved to Portland in the fall of 1999 to create a research department at the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine. During the past ten years, as Dean of Research, he has been coordinating collaborative research projects in acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) with Oregon Health & Science University, Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research, and the University of Arizona, funded by the NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM). He was an invited speaker at the 1997 NIH Consensus Conference on Acupuncture, and co-edited Acupuncture Research: Strategies for Establishing an Evidence Base (Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier, 2007). He served from 1997 to 2003 as co-president of the Society for Acupuncture Research and currently serves as an executive editor for the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
As a TIIH Institute Scholar, Dr. Hammerschlag will integrate his biomedical and CAM research experience to pose the question, “Can we begin to define a new model of health based on ‘energy physiology’?” He will review research on physiological correlates of ‘biofield therapies’ such as Reiki, external Qigong and Therapeutic Touch to examine how cells and tissues generate, receive and respond to subtle signals that may provide clues to body-wide regulatory and information processing systems not part of the generally accepted biomedical model of the body.
Ellen Hughes, MD, PhD
Ellen Hughes, MD, PhD, brings to her work as an Institute scholar a lifelong interest in integrative health. After receiving her doctorate in cell biology from the University of California at Berkeley, she completed a post-doctoral fellowship in exercise physiology, later entering medical school at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF). Since 1979, UCSF has been her professional home.
Now as Clinical Professor of Medicine Emerita in the Division of General Internal Medicine, she is nationally recognized as an outstanding clinician and gifted educator. She has received 12 major teaching awards at UCSF, including the Kaiser Award for Excellence in Teaching by Clinical Faculty, as well as the inaugural Humanism in Medicine and William Osler Awards.
Dr. Hughes is presently collaborating on a National Institutes of Health grant to develop and implement social and behavioral science curricula for undergraduate medical education, with an emphasis on mind-body medicine, spirituality and health, and sociocultural aspects of healthcare. In 2008 she completed a five-year education grant from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), successfully integrating complementary medicine into the required medical school curriculum.
Over the course of her career, Dr. Hughes has done extensive work in integrative medicine, studying traditional healing systems, herbal medicine, five-element acupuncture and mindfulness meditation. In 1997 she was instrumental in establishing the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at UCSF, serving as its first Director and later as Director of Education.
A primary care physician, Dr. Hughes has been inspired by her patients to understand what helps them – not only to survive – but to fully thrive throughout the span of a long life. As a Scholar of The Institute for Integrative Health, she will tackle challenging questions regarding the many levels and ways in which people age – molecular, genetic, epigenetic, cellular, as a whole organism, and as an individual in a community. Dr. Hughes will focus on two major areas:
1. The mechanisms that underlie aging; including longevity genes, epigenetics, telomeres and oxidative stress; and
2. Clinical aspects of healthy aging; namely evidence-based strategies to help patients live not just longer, but better.
She will examine the powerful effects of lifestyle, the role of inflammation in aging, positive effects of stress management, strategies to support behavior change, and lessons learned from centenarian and long-lived population studies. Factors of special importance include positive emotion, social relatedness, and the quest to find meaning in life through connection with something greater than oneself.
David Jones, MD
Dr. Jones is the president and director of medical education of The Institute for Functional Medicine, headquartered in Gig Harbor, Washington. He has practiced as a family physician with emphasis in functional and integrative medicine for over 30 years. He is a recognized expert in the areas of functional medicine, nutrition, lifestyle changes for optimal health, and managed care, as well as the daily professional functions consistent with the modern specialty of Family Practice. Dr. Jones is the recipient of the 1997 Linus Pauling Award in Functional Medicine. He is the past president of PrimeCare, the Independent Physician Association of Southern Oregon (IPASO) representing the majority of physicians in the Southern Oregon area. He has served as chief of staff at the Ashland Community Hospital and as president of the Southern Oregon Society of Preventive Medicine. He was editor-in-chief of the Textbook of Functional Medicine, published in 2005.
A Coherent Architecture for 21st Century Clinical Practice and Medical Education
What is needed for the 21st century is a coherent and comprehensive approach for assessing, preventing, and treating complex chronic disease. The primary objective of this project is to continue investigating the key content and organizing systems that can be used to understand and integrate the patients’ signs, symptoms, and lab/imaging results into information-rich, clinically relevant domains for improved assessment and treatment. I look forward to close working relationships with both The Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) faculty and the scholars within the TIIH, as my past experience has shown that a deeply collaborative effort on this important objective will be most successful.
The project addresses three distinct and parallel activities:
Content Development and Organization: Create a useful meta-system for organizing and integrating knowledge about the physiological functions of organ systems and cells into a coherent structure with practical clinical applications.
Achieving Healing Partnerships: Investigation of the underlying processes involved in establishing a healing context in the physician-patient relationship.
Improving Teaching and Learning: Investigation of innovative teaching/learning methodologies appropriate to today’s continuing medical education environment, to improve mastery of new clinical practices.
The deliverables from this project will be:
1. A draft of a comprehensive continuing education curriculum for a coherent new model of medical education and practice, based upon further refinements in the content and organization of the functional medicine domains.
2. One component of the curriculum document will be an expanded focus on physician-patient healing partnerships.
3. A plan for substantially improving the conversion of knowledge of functional medicine to actual clinical practices that benefit patients.
George A. Kaplan, PhD
Dr. Kaplan is the Thomas Francis Collegiate Professor of Public Health in the School of Public Health, a Research Professor at the Institute for Social Research, Director of the Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health, all at the University of Michigan. He is a faculty member in the Center for the Study of Complex Systems at the University of Michigan. He was an Associate in the Population Health Program of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research until its end. Dr. Kaplan also directs the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholars Program at the University of Michigan. Among his honors are membership in the Institute of Medicine, the National Academy of Social Insurance, the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research, and election to the Presidency of the Society for Epidemiologic Research. Dr. Kaplan is also the first public health scientist to be invited to address the Nobel Forum at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.
Professor Kaplan is a social epidemiologist who has published over 200 papers on the role of behavioral, social, psychological and socioeconomic factors in health and health inequalities. A major theme in his work is the role of “upstream” and “downstream” factors in maintaining health, delaying disease and improving function, with an emphasis on the linking of social and biological determinants. He describes his work as focused on the links between “social divides” and “health divides.” Recent studies by Dr. Kaplan and colleagues have detailed the cumulative cost of socioeconomic disadvantage on health and functional outcomes in the elderly, the role of socioeconomic status and economic equity on the overall health of populations, the impact of neighborhood and community factors on health, the impact of life-course trajectories on a variety of health outcomes in adulthood, and the role of economic and social policy on health.
Dr. Kaplan is leading a major effort to build bridges between researchers in population health and complexity and systems science, the goal being to more fully capture the dynamic, multi-level and multi-scale, non-linear complex processes that produce patterns of health and health disparities in the population.
As a TIIH Scholar, Dr. Kaplan will produce a series of papers focusing on the application of complex systems approaches to issues of population health and health disparities. These papers will combine lessons from both theoretical and empirical work, insights from colleagues, and programmatic suggestions for the introduction of complex systems material into training programs. His focus will include addressing a salient issue (for example, obesity or neighborhood effects on health and behavior), to show how a complex systems modeling approach can be useful in understanding implications of interventions at various levels. Importantly, Dr. Kaplan is working with TIIH to understand the added value that may result from forging an alliance between complex systems researchers on the one hand, and integrative medicine scholars and practitioners on the other.
David Lary, PhD
David Lary, PhD is an atmospheric scientist interested in applying computational and information systems to facilitate discovery and decision support in Earth System Science. He is author of AutoChem, NASA release software that constitutes an automatic computer code generator and documentor for chemically reactive systems. It was designed primarily for modeling atmospheric chemistry, and in particular, for chemical data assimilation.
AutoChem has won five NASA awards and has been used to perform long-term chemical data assimilation of atmospheric chemistry and in the validation of observations from the NASA Aura satellite. It has been used in numerous peer-reviewed articles.
Project Overview: A Global Context for Health Issues Using Remote Sensing Data
The specific aim of this project is to provide and test a capability of delivering daily global estimates of the ambient concentration of small airborne particulates (PM2.5) known to be environmental triggers for a range of significant health issues. Various networks of ground-based sensors provide routine measurements of PM2.5, but their spatial coverage is sparse, especially in less developed countries. The proposed global daily estimates will be provided by bringing together information from multiple remote sensing platforms and intelligently fusing them in their appropriate meteorological context.
Work will be completed in two phases. By the end of the first, a system and method will be completed, combining global satellite data with land-based aerosol sensor data, plus utilization of machine learning techniques (to fill in the areas that sensor and satellite data would/did not cover) in order to provide readings on the amount of particulates at a given level established by the EPA (PM2.5). Also at the end of this period, daily readings will be completed and made available for the first year that the global data was available via one of the primary satellites used (Calypso in 2006).
In the second phase, the system and methods will be applied to the data for the years, 2007 to the present. With this full platform of analyzed data in place at the end of year 2, historical data could be used for a host of applications, including those related to factors such as historical ailments (e.g., military health) or for content (e.g., weather channel or Google views) for comparative, “this date in history” type of readings. This data would also form the basis for more real-time applications (or contemporary readings) as well as other forecasting applications.
Claudia Witt, MD, MBA
Dr. Witt is Professor of Complementary Medicine and Vice Director, Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics at Charitē Universität Medizin, Berlin, Germany. A leading researcher in integrative medicine, Dr. Witt is also President of the International Society for Complementary Medicine Research.
The primary focus of Dr. Witt’s research is clinical and health services research. She has been involved in the design, conduct, analysis, and interpretation of a number of large-scale randomized clinical trials and observational studies, on the topics of efficacy and effectiveness. She has served as principal investigator of several acupuncture studies on efficacy, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness, which were designed to inform decision making for usual care and included over 50,000 patients. In addition she is responsible for the annual international summer school for CAM research methods and has over 10 years experience in teaching undergraduate and postgraduate students in different areas of research methodology.
As an Institute Scholar, Dr. Witt is focused on advancing the field of clinical and comparative effectiveness research (CER) for complementary and integrative medicine. She was a participant in the Institute’s 2009 forum on comparative effectiveness research (CER) and integrative medicine. and is now spearheading the Institute’s work in CER, outlining her work as follows:
The long term goal of this project is to develop Effectiveness Research Guidance Documents (EGDs) for CAM therapies including both single and complex interventions, and to provide guidance for the steps which have to be taken to plan future studies.
The short term goals are: (1) EGD for a single CAM intervention, using acupuncture as an example; (2) Identification of areas where aspects of health economic analysis could be integrated; and (3) EGD on a complex intervention, using Chinese medicine as an example.
Kirstin Aschbacher, PhD
Applied Dynamic Systems Modeling: A New Tool for Translational Research
One goal of the Scholars Program is to facilitate opportunities for Institute Scholars to mentor promising junior investigators in the field of integrative health. Our first such opportunity appeared in a proposal from Scholar George Kaplan that he mentor University of California San Francisco (UCSF) post-doctoral researcher Kirstin Aschbacher in the study of complex systems, to support her work in the biobehavioral and psychosocial aspects of health and health disparities. As Dr. Aschbacher is at UCSF, she will be mentored also by Institute Advisor Margaret Chesney and by Elissa Eppel, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, faculty member in the Health Psychology Postdoctoral Program, the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, the Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Postdoctoral Scholars Program, and a leader of the new UCSF Center on Obesity Assessment, Study, and Treatment. Dr. Eppel specializes in the psychobiology of stress (including work on telomeres and stress, with 2009 Nobel laureate Elizabeth Blackburn). They are highly supportive of Dr. Aschbacher’s work and believe she shows great potential to break new ground in our understanding of the physiological effects of many modalities in the field of integrative health.
The Institute’s first Fellow, Dr. Aschbacher is supported for part of her time and participates in all Institute Scholars activities. The Institute values her work especially as it carries forward our complexity forum of 2007 and the past two years of Institute support for George Kaplan’s own ground-breaking work in applying complexity models to questions of health disparities.
Learn more about Dr. Aschbacher’s work, including two recently published papers.