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A Tale of Two CAM/IM Awards: Dr. Rogers' Prize and the Bravewell PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

A Tale of Two CAM/Integrative Medicine Awards: Dr. Rogers' Prize and the Bravewell

Summary:  A Canadian initiative, the Dr. Rogers Prize, is outspending the Bravewell Collaborative in offering a $250,000 award to a single practitioner or researcher. While Bravewell has focused its prize on leaders in "integrative medicine," Dr. Rogers prize will go an individual who has advanced "complementary and alternative medicine" in Canada. Are these big awards to a single individual appropriate in what has fundamentally been a sociocultural movement? Might Dr. Rogers' advisors convince them that honoring 5 of 10, as Bravewell will do in 2007, is better than trying to select just one? And will the Canadians award finally acknowledge that there are practitioners outside of the MD and conventional  academic zones who merit honoring?
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Dr. Rogers Award Matches the Bravewell, Raises ...

ImageThe Dr. Rogers Prize for Excellence in Complementary and Alternative Medicine, an award of $250,000, will be granted to a clinician or researcher who has made a major contribution to the advance of complementary and alternative medicine. The award, open only to those who have principally worked in Canada, will be granted in a ceremony on November 1, 2007, in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The Dr. Rogers' award was established in recognition of the contribution of Roger Rogers, MD "to the field and his tireless efforts to gain widespread recognition for, and acceptance of, complementary and alternative cancer treatments in (Canada)." Rogers founded is first integrated clinic in 1977. Since the late 1980s, his focus has been on complementary cancer care. In 1992, Rogers opened the Centre for Integrated Therapy which later morphed into the Centre for Integrated Healing.

Image
Roger Rogers, MD, integrated health pioneer
The award is similar to the $100,000 Bravewell Leadership Award, founded in 2003 by an organization of philanthropists in the United States. The Dr. Rogers' Prize teams specifically thanks Bravewell for assisting them in creating this award. In fact, Bravewell's senior philanthropic advisor, Kathryn Jensen, is among a group of five advisors to the award. Others are listed here and include Rogers' spouse, Marion Rogers, MD.
Decision-makers for the award will be a panel of four individuals: two US medical doctors, Andrew Weil, MD, and James Gordon, MD, Canadian oncologist Simon Sutcliffe, MD, and NIH researcher Mary Ann Richardson, DrPH.

Information and application details are available at the Dr. Rogers' site. The awards evening is set to take place in the middle of the leading Canadian research conference, sponsored by the Canadian Interdisciplinary Network for Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research (IN-CAM). Weil will keynote the awards dinner. The prize will be awarded biannually.

The Morphing of the Bravewell Award: From Leaders to "Pioneers"


Image
Marion Rogers, MD, spouse and advisor to the prize
The Bravewell Leadership Award, which is serving as the model for the Canadian group, granted $100,000 to educator Ralph Snyderman, MD, in 2003 and another $100,000 to researcher, educator and clinician Brian Berman, MD, two years later.

In a break from its past, the 2007 Bravewell event, scheduled for November 8 in New York City, will introduce a new "Pioneers of Integrative Medicine" award in place of the leadership award. Instead of honoring one person in Academy Awards fashion, Bravewell announced ahead of time a list of six pioneers who will receive $25,000 each:

  • Larry Dossey, MD
  • Andrew Weil, MD
  • Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD
  • Rachel Remen, MD
  • James Gordon, MD
  • Dean Ornish, MD

All of the Bravewell pioneers, from Dossey on down, are best-selling authors who have been articulating a new way of thinking about health care for the last 20-30 years. Two, Kabat-Zinn and Ornish, have made huge contributions in research and clinical practice; these two and Gordon have each had massive influence in bringing mind-body, meditation and group-based services forward. Weil, Remen, Kabat-Zinn have played important roles in moving this thinking and these practices into conventional medical schools. Gordon, based in Washington, DC, has been at the center of policy issues surrounding the field.

Comment: Clearly, these awards are wonderful enhancements to the field - especially for the winners! For the rest of us, these big money grants help make complementary or alternative medicine appear to have arrived, mimicking as they do prizes in other more legitimized fields. Perhaps the potential to win an award will motivate some relatively obscure researcher or clinician. Certainly, the availability of NIH grants perked up a lot of noses. So, to Bravewell and the Rogers - thanks!

No question, the influence of the words and work of each of these Bravewell pioneers has been powerful. I count myself among the influenced, by each of them in different ways.

Image But there is something in this focus on the individual and one set of individuals that says, of the movement: Never mind the terrain. Never mind the host. By this I mean the literally hundreds of non-integrative MD or PhD souls who worked the soil of North American medical culture when it was utterly poisoned by the wanton bigotry (Quack! Fraud!) and illegal, segregationist economic behavior actively promoted by the AMA. I mean the practitioners who fought to establish whole new disciplines.

From the 1970s onward, un-totaled numbers of these worker bees started colleges, struggled with each other to set standards, battled in state legislatures for licensing, developed accrediting agencies, and then campaigned to earn the recognition of these agencies from the national and state and provincial governments. They helped make visible, and available, natural health care options.
These stepped intentionally onto a ground stripped of nutrients by the AMA technologic and pharmaceutical duo-culture and began to cultivate a flourishing diversity of healing potential.

I speak here particularly of the leaders of the professions of
acupuncture and Oriental medicine, chiropractic, holistic nursing, naturopathic medicine, massage therapy and direct-entry (homebirth) midwifery as well as the leaders of the fields of holistic medicine, holistic nursing and clinical nutrition.

Image
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These are the individuals who opened the use of
popular services and natural medicines to the millions whose practices were captured by Eisenberg in his 1990 survey. It was data on the use of these practitioners which stimulated the development of an NIH office which started the money flowing. Call it irrigation. Once the money was flowing, then, and only then, was most of the action begun in the medical schools. Only then was "integrative medicine" birthed.

The authors, clinicians and researchers who the Bravewell honors surely provided cover for this ground-breaking work. These MDs (and the lone PhD) lent the credit of their degrees to non-conventional ideas. But it is the unheralded leaders of the other disciplines who provided the care people received. They provided choice and moved the medical-cultural energy in the neighborhoods and in people's lives.

It's Time for a Little Tokenism ...

The name of the Dr. Rogers' Award suggests that the Canadian award might be more open to honoring some of the non-academic MDs.
Canada's integrated health care processes have typically been far more democratic and inclusive of other disciplines than those in the United States. Yet the award's advisors and decision makers haven't a single non-MD provider among them. And the influence of Bravewell's non-inclusive ideology makes me wonder.

Bravewell took a step in the right direction when it chose to honor six individuals instead of one this time around. The Rogers Prize people should follow this direction and grant 5 or 10 awards this year, in 2007, of $25,000-$50,000 each, instead of the one large prize. Perhaps Weil and Gordon - both Bravewell awardees in 2007 after not having won in previous rounds - will press upon the Dr. Rogers group the wisdom of spreading the good stuff around.

And with a half-dozen winners, the Dr. Rogers team can
chose a group of MDs and conventional academic researchers and then maybe tuck an acupuncturist or a chiropractor or a naturopathic doctor or a holistic nurse in among them. It's time, in the name of integration, for at least a little tokenism in these prizes.

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