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Gift Creates Osher Center for Integrative Medicine

Bernard Osher gift will support clinical care, research and medical education

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April 7, 2014 | by Marla Paul

CHICAGO --- In recognition of a multi-million dollar gift from San Francisco businessman Bernard Osher, Northwestern Integrative Medicine will now be named the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern University.

The gift will help the center advance medical education, collaborate on research initiatives and create innovative clinical models of care, including supportive care related to cancer and heart treatment.

The Bernard Osher Foundation, which will be involved in administering the gift, was founded in 1977 to improve quality of life through support for higher education and the arts. It has been a committed participant in the emerging field of integrative medicine over the past two decades. It has provided important assistance to the health sector through financial support of leading centers of integrative medicine in the U.S. and abroad.

“This generous gift will help Northwestern expand its already vibrant program in integrative medicine,” said Eric Neilson, M.D., vice president for medical affairs and the Lewis Landsberg Dean at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “The gift also gives Northwestern the chance to collaborate with the Osher Foundation’s other centers for integrative medicine and increase our collective knowledge in clinical care and student education in this growing field. We are deeply grateful to Mr. Osher for his support.”

The Osher gift will connect Northwestern with the three existing Osher Centers for Integrative Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco; at Harvard Medical School with a clinical program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital; and at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. The integrative medicine program at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine also is becoming an Osher Center. All five institutions are committed to creating and furthering programs that focus on research, education and clinical care in integrative medicine.

“As the architect of the Osher integrative medicine program, the Foundation takes great pride in the program’s expansion through the personal gifts of Bernard Osher to Northwestern and Vanderbilt,” explained Mary Bitterman, president of The Bernard Osher Foundation. “Mr. Osher has been greatly impressed with Northwestern’s leadership in the integrative medicine field and is confident that it will make contributions to the network of Osher Centers across the country and in Sweden.”  Bitterman concluded by noting that “Northwestern is the only institution of higher learning in the country that has been selected for all three of the national Osher programs:  Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes, Osher Reentry Scholarships and Osher Centers for Integrative Medicine.”

“I am thrilled that the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern has joined the family of Osher Centers,” said center medical director Melinda Ring, M.D., assistant clinical professor of medicine at Feinberg and a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “I look forward to working with our partner Osher Centers to create innovative clinical models of care, advance medical education and collaborate on research initiatives. With the support provided by Mr. Osher, through our combined efforts we want to have a meaningful impact on the health care landscape in the U.S., furthering the goal of personalized, whole-person care for all.”

The Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern is the University’s only official center for integrative medicine. It provides integrative medicine consults, integrative primary care, traditional Chinese medicine, chiropractic, naturopathic medicine, body and energy work, health psychology, mind-body medicine, nutrition counseling, smoking cessation and a diverse array of wellness classes.

Integrative medicine has been called the “new medicine,” but in many ways, it is a return to the original practice and philosophy of medicine. It emphasizes the relationship between the doctor and patient, the innate healing ability of the body and the importance of addressing all aspects of an individual’s life to attain optimal health and healing.

“We are honored to be selected as the newest Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. This remarkable support will be pivotal in moving our program -- and Dr. Ring’s extraordinary vision -- into national prominence,” said Northwestern President Morton Schapiro.

Ring’s teaching activities include serving as director of the medical school integrative medicine curriculum and continuing medical education programs. Her research is focused on advancing outcome measurement and data collection in integrative medicine clinical research.

The Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern is a member of the Consortium of Academic Health Centers in Integrative Medicine, a group of 57 esteemed national academic centers. Ring was elected to the executive board of this influential organization in 2011. Northwestern is also one of the 14 top clinical programs centers that constitute Bravenet, the integrative practice-based research network established by The Bravewell Collaborative.

The University recently launched a $3.75 billion fundraising campaign, We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern, that will support the initiatives of its bold strategic plan. One area of focus in the campaign is furthering discovery in the biomedical sciences. The Osher gift will support that goal in the field of integrative medicine.

Northwestern Medicine® is the collaboration between Northwestern Memorial HealthCare and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine around a strategic vision to transform the future of healthcare. It encompasses the research, teaching and patient care activities of the academic medical center. Sharing a commitment to superior quality, academic excellence and patient safety, the organizations within Northwestern Medicine comprise more than 9,000 clinical and administrative staff, 3,100 medical and science faculty and 700 students. The entities involved in Northwestern Medicine remain separate organizations. Northwestern Medicine is a trademark of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare and is used by Northwestern University.

Topics: University