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Historic IM-CAM Scientific Meeting to Draw 500+ PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

Historic Scientific Meeting May 24-27 on IM-CAM to Draw 500+

Image"We're excited about the meeting," reflects Adi Haramati, PhD, program committee chair for the North American Research Conference on Complementary and Integrative Medicine. He explains: "In the history of the (CAM-IM) field, this is the first research meeting that really runs across the spectrum of the disciplines."

Haramati ticks off the contributions which will be offered from the acupuncture, massage, naturopathic medicine and chiropractic fields
-- as well as from MD and PhD researchers from  conventional academic health centers. "Sure, it's sponsored by the Consortium (of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine (CAHCIM). But we've made every effort to bring in the other disciplines. They are participating organizations, scientific reviewers, and of course presenters of their research." He adds: "This is really very meaningful for the field."

   Participating Organizations 
 
Academic Consortium for Complementary
   and Alternative Health Care
Advanced Food Materials Network
American Academy oif Pediatrics
Association of Chiropractic Colleges
CAM Education and Research Network of Alberta
Canadian Institute for Chinese Medicinal Research
Pediatric CAM Network (Canada)
Natural Health Products Research Sosiety (Canada)
In-CAM (Canada)
Massage Therapy Foundation
Massage Therapy Research Consortium
NIH NCCAM
Peninsula Medical School (UK)
Society for Acupuncture Research
Society for Integrative Oncology
Internatonal Society for CAM Research

The event will be held in Edmonton, Alberta, May 24-27. Sponsors and participating organizations are a who's who of CAM-IM networks, agencies and foundations from the two countries: the US NIH NCCAM, Health Canada, Calgary Health Region, the Bernard Osher Foundation, Bravewell Collaborative, George Foundation and the Fondation Lucie et Andre Chagnon, among others. The sponsors should be pleased. The number of presentations, posters and abstracts that will be presented numbers over 300. Some 550 people were registered to attend as of late April.

The core planning team is bi-national - as is the sponsoring Consortium. Among the team leaders are Canadians Sunita Vora, MD, FRCPC, MSc, Marja Verhoef, PhD, and Pierre Hadad, PhD. Among the US leaders are Haramati, Fredi Kronenberg, PhD, David Eisenberg, MD, Sara Warber, MD,
Image
Adi Harmati, PhD, program chair
and conference chair Susan Folkman, PhD. Folkman also chairs the Consortium. (See IBN&R interview with Folkman on the Consortium's strategic priorities.) Robb Scholten, long-time, influential, behind-the-scenes fellow from the CAM program at Harvard, is also playing a key organizing role.

The organizing work for a scientific meeting is significantly more consuming than a regular CME conference, as Haramati shares. One example: During one three week period late in 2005, 335 abstracts needed to be peer-reviewed for
rejection, or selection as oral presentations or as posters. Teams of reviewers were created in advance, based on the type of research. Given the work-load, the team doesn't anticipate annualizing the meeting. Haramati guesses that it will most likely be held only "every three or four years."

On mentally reviewing the presentations, Haramati, who directs the integrative medicine program at Georgetown University, offers an overall sense that "the science is maturing, and people are getting ready for the long-haul." He was particularly pleased with some of the basic research abstracts in the areas of acupuncture and natural products.  (The conference website - click on the logo, above -- is laden with information.)

Image
Susan Folkman, PhD, conference chair
The inclusive, multi-disciplinary bent of the planners is evident in the list of Participating Organizations (see above) as well as some of the presentation selections. One of the 44 abstracts selected for oral presentation is a modified Delphi survey reviewing a published paper in Academic Medicine on the competencies required for the practice of integrative medicine. The competencies, endorsed by the conventional academic consortium. These were reviewed by members of the Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care (ACCAHC) and representatives of CAM schools associated with the Oregon

 This is a not-to-miss
meeting ... especially 

knowing that we're not
likely to see it
come
around again
for 3 or 4 years.


Collaborative for Complementary and Integrative Medicine. Attendees will also have an opportunity to examine outcomes of a survey of all accredited CAM schools (130) and Consortium members (30) on the extent of inter-institutional relationships between CAM and conventional health professions schools. This survey was completed through the multi-disciplinary process of the National Education Dialogue to Advance Integrated Health Care: Creating Common Ground (NED).

Comment: The conference does appear to be, as Harmati notes, a sign of the maturation of CAM-IM research. That the conventional community extended itself to the broader CAM universe is also a sign of confidence and maturation - not to mention a smart marketing direction. Haramati is a long-time leader in bringing the disciplines into one room, including leadership of the NED and, as some few will know, a very late night suggestion after a Bravewell Collaborative function in November of 2003 which helped stimulate the formation of ACCAHC. The typically greater inclusiveness of CAM disciplines in the Canadian integrated health care dialogue may also have factored in. This is a not-to-miss meeting - especially knowing that we're not likely to see it come around again for 3 or 4 years. (Disclosure note: I was involved in both the ACCAHC and NED surveys, and will be presenting on the latter with Benjamin Kligler, MD, MPH.)


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