Faculty, students and staff gathered to share recent discoveries in the field of integrative medicine, discuss ongoing research opportunities and network with like-minded scientists and physicians at the first annual Osher Center Research Day.
The Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern University focuses on an approach to care that melds conventional medicine with complementary therapies, such as nutrition, supplements and mind-body practices.
At the conference, Northwestern Medicine scientists presented on research ranging from acupuncture after heart surgery to improving sleep through mindfulness meditation. The event also featured an evening poster session and a keynote speech on integrative care for low back pain by David Eisenberg, MD, adjunct associate professor of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
“Our overarching goal is to bring a wide range of integrative medicine research being done at Northwestern together under the Osher Center umbrella, to foster transdisciplinary collaborations and support investigators in conducting rigorous science that will grow the empirical evidence base for integrative approaches to health,” said Judy Moskowitz, PhD, director of research at the Osher Center and professor of Medical Social Sciences.
Research spotlighted at the event included the work of Inger Burnett-Zeigler, PhD, assistant professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, who conducted a study showing the effectiveness of mindfulness training in reducing depressive symptoms in women at a federally qualified health center. David Victorson, PhD, associate professor of Medical Social Sciences, presented findings from a National Institutes of Health-funded pilot study of a yoga support program for Spanish-speaking breast cancer survivors.
During her opening talk, Melinda Ring, MD, executive director of the Osher Center, discussed preliminary data from a national study of patient-reported outcomes after integrative care at 18 sites across the country, including Northwestern Medicine hospitals. At one-year follow-up, study participants reported significant decreases in factors like stress, sleep disturbances and intensity of pain.
“If we want to create real change in terms of making this a healthcare system focused on prevention and helping people feel their optimal health — instead of just not being sick — then we need to have the research,” Ring said. “This type of data helps to validate what we’re doing and is really the kind of information that will help change the way healthcare is being practiced.”
Northwestern’s Osher Center is one of five integrative care centers supported by the Bernard Osher Foundation. Northwestern, which first launched an integrative medicine program in 1997, became part of the Osher consortium in 2014, joining Harvard Medical School; the University of California, San Francisco; Vanderbilt University; and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.