When the news hit the dominant medical industry in January 1993 that 33% of adult Americans used some “unconventional medicine” and spent $13.7-billion annually out of their pockets, most of the medical industry’s stakeholders were startled awake. A huge cultural-medical phenomenon had been obscured by their prejudice. The awakening was all the more effective because the data that grabbed them was from the inner sanctum. The research hailed from Harvard University. The results were published in the top-cited New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). The Harvard brand was then affixed to high profile conferences that sanctified and kick-started the integrative era. While the first leaders have moved in powerful new directions, 27 years later, the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital is being led by director Peter Wayne, PhD and a new generation that substantially grew up inside the institution. Returning to Harvard seemed a good way to cap the series of 6 portraits of integrative academic health centers – from the shock waves via peer-reviewed journal to anticipated next-gen directions.
The Integrator Blog News & Reports annually marks the winter solstice with a Top 10 for Policy and Action in Integrative Health and Medicine. In the selection of the Top 10, the accent is on the affirmative – as the jazz-man sings. Thus, the Coming of the Light focuses on individuals and organizations in the field making positive contributions to shift the medical industry toward a system that focuses on creating health. Less positive things sometimes make the list. Who would have guessed that 2020 might have some of these! Integrator articles are now published at johnweeks-integrator.com/posts with content going back to 2006 at the original Integrator site. Prior Top 10 lists, a sort of Cliff Notes of the movement’s history, are linked at the bottom of this column. Below are the Top 10 for 2020. Happy Solstice!
The murder of George Floyd, and its clearly non-anomalous nature, tooth-picked open the eyes of many white people to the depths of racism, of systematic intrusion of bigotry, and built in barriers to the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness for vast sets of people of color in the U.S. population. One place the need for re-education in places high and low was evident in the commitment to “deepening my understanding of systemic racism” from Bill Gates. He was explaining his choice for the book at the top of list of 2020 reading: The New Jim Crow. Multiple integrative health and medicine organizations responded to Floyd’s murder with their own statements of solidarity, and of commitment. I reported these just 10 days after Floyd’s death on June 7 (8 organizations) then a second set on June 28 (13 more). As my own commitment, I closed the latter with a promise to check in with these organizations 6 months later to see how they have acted on their commitments. Here is the report-back to the community.
In 2001, Mayo Clinic received a transformative jolt of integrative energy at a fortuitous moment. The institution was about to celebrate the opening of the 21-story Gonda Building. What a Minnesota news account called a “transformative project” was funded originally with a $45-million bequest from Southern Californians Leslie and Susan Gonda. Their daughter, Lucy Gonda, then an activist and philanthropist in the emerging integrative medicine field, recognized an opportunity. There would likely be no better time to stretch herself for her most significant integrative grant. She piggy-backed onto the celebration of her parents’ gift to throw in the spotlight a struggling, nearly invisible integrative medicine operation. This article examines what has been built since the injection from the “god-mother of integrative medicine at Mayo.”