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Research Fellowships Offered through UCSF Osher and NCCAM-Osher PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

Research Fellowships Offered through Osher-NCCAM and UCSF Osher

Summary:  Research-interested CAM clinicians will be among beneficiaries of two new research development programs. The Integrator spoke with Bernard Osher Foundation president Mary Bitterman about the Osher-NIH NCCAM program to offer research career development among clinicians from the distinctly licensed natural healthcare professions of chiropractic, naturopathic and acupuncture and Oriental medicine. Meantime, a distinct UCSF Osher Center program will be offering two research fellowships in 2007 and two more in 2008 which are open to both conventionally-trained researchers as well as those from the natural healthcare professions. The initial submission deadline for both programs is February 1, 2007.

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NIH NCCAM/Osher Foundation Support Training of CAM Professionals as Researchers

The NIH NCCAM announced in early October a new career development program which focuses on doctoral-level clinicians in the CAM fields of chiropractic, naturopathic and acupuncrture and Oriental medicine. The program is entitled
The Bernard Osher Foundation/NCCAM CAM Practitioner Research Career Development Award.

Image The Integrator asked Bernard Osher Foundation president Mary Bitterman about why the foundation chose to partner with NCCAM. She replied: "It is because of our high regard for Dr. Stephen Straus (founding NCCAM director) that we found it so pleasing to be involved in this partnership." She added that "we feel that this partnership will promote the future of integrative medicine research." Bitterman then returned to the importance, in the decision process, of the Foundation's respect for the former NCCAM director in this partnership: "Dr. Strauss has been a mentor to a generation of integrative medicine researchers."

Asked why Osher contributed to a grant focusing on creating research opportunities for CAM practitioners, Bitterman replied: "This was a particular proposal to us from NCCAM which they were particularly excited about." Application deadlines are February 1, 2007, October 1, 2008 and October 1, 2009.

UCSF Osher Center Announces Research Fellowship Opportunities

The University of California at San Francisco Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, funded originally through a major grant from the Bernard Osher Foundation, announced in December a post-doctoral research fellowship which will be awarded to two applicants in 2007 and two more in 2008.
Those accepted will be hired to participate in a three-year interdisciplinary program.

ImageThe UCSF-Osher program is designed for physicians, behavioral and social scientists, and doctoral-level complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners. According to the UCSF site, the program consists of required seminars and formal course work, individual mentoring, research and creative activity, elective seminars and classes, teaching, and a number of optional activities. UCSF
Osher Center director Susan Folkman, PhD, told the Integrator that the program will be for clinical research in integrative medicine and that "we're looking for the most talented people who want to be trained."

The Osher center includes research, education and clinical initiatives through an integrative medicine clinic. "What's particularly interesting here," comments Folkman, "is that we can bring our clinical faculty and clinical expertise to these researchers' development." The program is funded through the NIH NCCAM. Deadline for applicants is February 1, 2007, with the position to begin August 2007.
Details about the awards and application process are available by clicking here.

Comment: That there is a hunger for funding to support research by professionals in the complementary and alternative medicine fields is evident in a recently poll on the Acupuncture Today site. The question: If given the opportunity, would you be interested in a career in research?  Of 504 participants (as of December 29, 2006), 75% (377) answered "yes" and the remaining 25% (127) "no." Who was it that ever said these fields were not interested in science?

Kudos to the Osher
Foundation and the
the UCSF Osher Center
for helping these CAM

professionals in the
development of their
futures as researchers.
Few people recall that research became of great interest to the conventional medicine field back in the 1950s when a significant body of professionals could make a living at research. Why then? Massive increases in NIH funding. NCCAM, for all its good work, has of yet done very little to create such futures for professionals from the distinctly-licensed CAM disciplines. A few CAM schools have received NIH grants. Others have been involved in education grants. A handful of practitioners from CAM professions have gained training through through the seven T32 Institutional Training grants to conventional medical schools. One T32 went to a non-conventional school, Bastyr University, facilitating the training of researchers there. (See list at the bottom of the chart here.)

Yet, all totalled, little investment until this time has been made in feeding the hunger of a subset of natural healthcare professionals
in devoting themselves to developing professional lives as researchers. If the Acupuncture Today poll holds across disciplines, this is a significant subset, even if 80%-90% of those "interested" have the wind knocked out of them by coursework in biostatistics and epidemiology or the actual rigors and competitive pressures of a research life.

The UCSF Osher Center grant, while not targeting researchers from the CAM professions, is quite open to clinicians from these disciplines, according to Folkman. Kudos to the Bernard Osher Foundation and the the UCSF Osher Center helping these CAM professionals in the development of their futures as researchers. Here is hoping that at least some of these new fellows will remain loyal to their whole person-oriented clinical training and engage the challenges of whole practice and whole systems research.

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for publication in a future Your Comments article.

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