Where are we going
To transform healthcare by establishing a collaborative, holistic paradigm that promotes health and healing by integrating all aspects of human life: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, cultural, social, and environmental.
USC-IIH is now prepared to assume a global leadership role in the field of integrative health. Given the current state of healthcare in the U.S., the burden of chronic illness and lifestyle diseases, and the need to act now to address these issues, integrative medicine is one of the most essential components of the future of healthcare delivery. The NIH clearly recognizes the critical need to fund active research in the safety and efficacy of complementary and integrative modalities. In the context of this national mandate, USC-IIH is now positioned to provide ground-breaking leadership in research, education, and the clinical practice of integrative health.
What sets USC-IIH apart from the other academic integrative health centers? Our focus, expertise, and commitment to:
- Multicultural, community-based approaches to health and healing. We have demonstrated expertise in culturally competent and ethnically diverse healthcare approaches, the role of narrative experience and personal story in healing, the role of nature and the environment in healing, and the role of group connections and inter-connections in healing. Collaboration with the community transforms all relationships in health care and health care outcomes.
- Integrative health care across the entire life cycle. Whereas the vast majority of integrative health centers across the US are focused on adults, USC-IIH has a strong history of research and clinical practice excellence in both pediatric and geriatric populations.
- Wellness of the entire USC community. Developing a culture of wellness at USC will be a major focus of our work moving forward. We have already helped develop wellness programs for students, faculty, physicians in training, other health professionals staff, and patients.
- Health equity. We have provided increased knowledge through research and expanding access to and quality of integrative health services to diverse populations that suffer from considerable health disparities, which is emphasized as a priority by NIH research funding mechanisms.
- Science. We have not only emphasized the use of evidence-based complementary/integrative health modalities, but insisted on doing the research necessary to expand the evidence-base supporting the use of such modalities and truly advancing the overall scholarly field of integrative health.
- True inter-weaving of integrative health modalities. Along with the beyond exceptional Western-based medicine already offered by the USC healthcare network, we will offer individualized complementary-integrative treatments to patients in a coordinated fashion.
The immediate needs of the USC-IIH in order to realize its full potential as a leader in the field of integrative health include:
- Structural foundation. We need a designated space to house the USC Institute for Integrative Health. This could be a new building or consist of the remodeling of current space to house our staff, conduct our research, and deliver our services. We need to create an optimal, serene, and healing clinical environment that will promote the wellness of our patients and allow us to achieve our mission in education and research and become a beacon and magnet of integrative health to the world
- Endowed chair. We need an endowment gift that would provide for a sustainable administrative core to carry out our activities. This endowment would provide salary support for our key leadership faculty and staff, and support our core administrative activities, such as grant submissions to NCCIH and other funding agencies. Most of the other leading university integrative health centers, for example Vanderbilt, Duke, UCSF, Northwestern, were established through the generous gifts of individual donors and foundations.
- USC Wellness Promotion. Wellness initiatives are becoming a mandate for medical schools’ training programs, and integrative health centers at academic health institutions are leading these wellness initiatives for medical students, residents, and faculty. The IIH seeks to lead the nation in developing wellness initiatives for USC medical students, residents and trainees, faculty, undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate students.
- Center for multicultural healing. Development of this center would allow us to extend our knowledge and expertise with ethnic healing systems used in our surrounding communities into revolutionary research and evidence-based direct patient care. These systems would include the current use of alternative sources of health care by our local Latino population (curanderas, botanicals, homeopathic remedies, etc). Additionally, Native American indigenous medicine practices (botanical, spiritual, earth-based systems), ayurvedic healing practices, spiritual-based healing systems, and others will be studied in this center. While traditional Chinese medicine is practiced extensively at many other integrative centers, and it will be an important part of our clinical practice, we seek to become the pre-eminent academic center in the U. S. in the use and research of these additional ancient systems of healing.
- Pediatric Center for Integrative Health at the LA County Wellness Center. We seek to expand our current collaborations between the Department of Pediatrics at LA County + USC Medical Center and the LA County Wellness Center to provide extensive integrative health services for children and classes that would serve the community surrounding the USC Health Science Campus and LA County + USC Medical Center. Given our already strong collaborations with the LA Unified School District, we will expand our previous local research efforts to school-based clinical programs. Many schools across the nation are already implementing yoga and mindfulness programs for children and are demonstrating excellent results. With our proven strength in pediatrics and multicultural integrative approaches, we have a unique opportunity to impact the communities where our patients and families live, work and play, making long-lasting changes in their well-being.
- Additional initiatives in Research, Education, Clinical Care
An intramural pilot research project funding mechanism would award funds based on peer-review committee recommendations, and would expand the volume of integrative health research being done at USC, provide junior faculty investigators with the critical pilot data needed to be competitive for larger external grant support, and increase the visibility of USC-IIH research efforts within the larger field of integrative health. Examples of research pilot project proposals currently in need of funding are:
- Stress-reduction and community empowerment approaches to childhood diabetes and obesity.
- Integrative health approaches for military veterans
- Medical marijuana for palliative care
Educating future integrative health leaders & practitioners
Public demand for integrative healing therapies is increasing. It is therefore imperative that future health providers are knowledgeable about these modalities. Proposed projects in need of substantial resources are:
- Expanding integrative health curricula within the 3 health science schools: medicine, dental, and pharmacy, as well as the School of Social Work.
- Providing integrative health education for non-traditional “health” professions: art, music, dance, and other programs.
- Development of mind-body course curriculae – undergraduate, masters, PhD and post-graduate.
- Providing critically-needed training grants and scholarships to support students and post-doctoral fellows in integrative health.
- Conduct educational seminars and webinars in integrative health for the general USC and broader Los Angeles communities.
Delivery of cutting-edge integrative clinical care
We have identified a number of areas in which expanded clinical services could be implemented in the near future. These include:
- Inpatient consultation service: cancer, cardiac rehabilitation, inpatient pain, pediatrics.
- New outpatient clinical programs, including:
- Programs in integrative diabetes, oncology, pediatrics, neurology, chronic pain
- Spirituality/meaning & health
- Behavioral medicine/health psychology program for coping with chronic illness
- Programs in integrative diabetes, oncology, pediatrics, neurology, chronic pain