Meetings Fruitful for NCI Collaborations with China
Libin Jia, M.D., health scientist administrator in the Office of the Director at OCCAM, attended two conferences in China during October 2008. The first was sponsored by the Cancer Foundation of China, titled “The Progress and Prospect of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Cancer Therapy and Prevention.” The conference was held from October 22-24, in Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province. Dr. Jia was invited to the conference by the Foundation to share the projects on CAM and cancer that NCI is currently supporting, particularly on TCM related to cancer therapy or prevention. The attendees, who were primarily doctors trained in conventional medicine, were interested in learning about OCCAM’s projects and updated Web site. During this meeting, Dr. Jia also learned about current TCM cancer research in China.
The second conference was the “2nd International Congress of TCM and Integrated TCM-Western Medicine (WM) Oncology”, held in Beijing on October 24-26. Dr Jia was invited by the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Society to be a plenary session speaker and a chairperson. In his talk, Dr. Jia again gave an overview of current NCI investments in CAM and cancer. He discussed specific projects, which highlight the importance of scientific research on TCM drug mechanisms. For example, he talked about the successful cooperative study on Sheng Qi Formula taking place between NCI and Guang An Men, a hospital in Beijing. This collaboration has led to some new findings on the regulatory function of this TCM drug on the immune system.
During his travels, Dr. Jia also had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Hongsheng Lin, chairman of the Beijing meeting and the chief of the Oncology Department at the Guang An Men hospital of the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences. They discussed the continuation of cooperative research between NCI and Guang An Men hospital, future TCM-related projects, postdoctoral training offered by NCI, and information exchange between two institutions.
Five Years of NCI Funding Support for SIO’s International Conference
For the past five years, NCI has provided grant support for the international conference of the Society of Integrative Oncology (SIO). The 2008 conference was held in Atlanta, Georgia in November and was supported, in part, by an R13 conference grant from OCCAM. This 2-day meeting drew almost 225 attendees and included presentations and discussions on recent advances in the field covering topics such as botanicals, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), CAM therapies for symptom management, and integrative survivorship.
Isis Mikhail, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H., director of OCCAM’s Research Development and Support Program, commented about her experience as a first time attendee, “I was working previously at OCCAM when SIO was in the early stages of being established. I was glad to see the organization fully operational and witness the number of attendees interested in cancer CAM research.”
Opening day topics on integrative oncology included research challenges, communication issues, addressing the whole person, and practical implications. Dr. Mikhail commented on the conference program, “Several of the session topics corresponded to OCCAM’s research priority areas, specifically the ones on botanicals and TCM.”
Two of NCI’s staff members were part of the conference program. John Milner, Ph.D., chief of the Nutritional Science Research Group, gave a presentation titled “Nutrition for the Cancer Survivor.” Joseph Kelaghan, M.D., M.P.H., of the Community Oncology and Prevention Trials Research Group, gave an update on NCI’s Community Clinical Oncology Program.
The program, abstracts, and selected videos from the 2008 conference are available on the SIO Web site at http://www.integrativeonc.org/index.php/sio-events.
SIO’s 6th International Conference will take a place in New York City on November 12-13, 2009.
IOM and U.S. Senate Hold Events on Integrative Medicine
On February 25-27, 2009, the Institute of Medicine (IOM), in partnership with The Bravewell Collaborative, held a summit to examine the role that integrative medicine (IM), a marriage between conventional medicine and CAM therapies, can play in the nation’s health agenda. The three-day summit gathered participants from academia, clinical centers, advocacy organizations, government agencies, health insurance providers, as well as patients. The main purpose of the summit was to bring the different parties together to share knowledge and work toward U.S. health reform that includes IM.
Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg, president of the IOM, opened the summit by reflecting on the current state of IM and providing the many different dimensions of IM. As Dr. Fineberg described it, IM:
- Fulfills the World Health Organization (WHO) definition of health: “A state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease”
- Extends across the whole spectrum of medicine, caregivers, and institutions
- Focuses on the individual to create patient-centered care
- Conveys openness to multiple modalities of care
The summit’s keynote addresses and panel discussions covered topics such as innovative health care models, the science of IM, current and future health care workforce and education needs, and the economic state of the U.S. health care system. Speakers included Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Dean Ornish, M.D., and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Over the course of three days, the summit addressed the definition of IM, how to incorporate IM into conventional medicine, and how to use the concept of IM to advance health reform in the U.S. A review of all of the panel discussions and a commitment to produce a thorough meeting summary ended the summit. The agenda, presentation slides, white papers, and videocast of the summit are available on IOM’s Web site: www.iom.edu/CMS/28312/52555.aspx.
During the same week as the summit, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held two hearings to discuss IM. The hearings were chaired on Monday, February 23 by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and on Thursday, February 26 by Senator Michael B. Enzi (R-WY), the ranking member of the Committee; Senator Harkin; and Senator Mikulski. Each hearing had a panel with four IM experts, who gave opening statements and then answered questions posed by the attending Senators. Several of the panelists were also speakers at the IOM summit, including Dr. Oz and Dr. Ornish. Panelists commented on the need for a special office in the White House to oversee health reform and the importance of health coaches to insure a continuum of care for patients.