Integrative Medicine approaches that may improve health, including meditation, yoga, tai chi, massage, and other approaches are widely used by Americans. Evidence for the health effects of these practices, however, has important limitations. This T32 grant will train pre and postdoctoral scientists to perform rigorous research of Integrative Medicine approaches. This will help to strengthen our knowledge of how and whether these approaches work for specific health conditions.
Integrative medicine approaches, including meditation, yoga, tai chi, massage, and other practices are widely used by Americans in the hope of obtaining health benefits. Evidence for the health effects of these practices, however, has important limitations. The goal of the fellowship, "Training for Research in Integrative Medicine" (TRIM), is to train post-doctoral behavioral and social scientists, physicians, and other qualified health professionals to design and conduct rigorous clinical and translational research in CAM and integrative medicine. The program is based at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine (OCIM) within the UCSF School of Medicine. In the present renewal, we detail the rationale for the program and our progress to date, and we propose a program incorporating improvements based on our experience in the first five years. A key change we propose is to expand the training program to include two predoctoral positions in addition to the current four post-doctoral positions. The TRIM program provides: an interdisciplinary clinical and research environment; strong mentoring by an experienced and diverse research faculty; advanced training in biological and psychological research methodologies to support clinical research in integrative medicine; rigorous training in clinical research methodologies, with special attention to issues that are particularly relevant to integrative medicine research; opportunity to conduct original research; training in research ethics; and exposure to diverse integrative approaches to patient care involving all age groups from early childhood through geriatric patients. The TRIM interdisciplinary faculty has twelve core and eight affiliated members representing internal medicine, family medicine, psychology, anthropology, biostatistics, psychoneuroendocrinology, women's health, pediatrics, health services research, medical ethics, and psychiatry. In addition, a major strength of the training program is the clinical advisory faculty who are available to provide technical assistance and consultation on specific integrative medicine approaches that trainees might want to study. TRIM faculty provide required and optional academic activities that are tailored to each trainee's individual learning objectives and are committed to being active mentors to trainees. The TRIM program will equip a new generation of researchers to expand our knowledge-base about how and whether integrative medicine approaches work for specific health conditions.