April 8, 2014

Bernard Osher Foundation gift to transform Vanderbilt Center for Integrative Health

Through a $5.5 million donation from San Francisco businessman Bernard Osher, Vanderbilt’s Center for Integrative Health will join the existing group of Osher Centers for Integrative Medicine and will now be known as the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Vanderbilt University.

The Bernard Osher Foundation, founded in 1977 to improve quality of life through support for higher education and the arts, has been a committed participant in the emerging field of integrative medicine over the past two decades. The Foundation 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 enable Vanderbilt to play an increasingly significant role in the field of integrative medicine,” said Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “The gift also gives Vanderbilt the opportunity to collaborate with the Foundation’s other centers for integrative medicine as we seek to increase knowledge, develop new clinical programs, and train students in this emerging discipline. I want to express my appreciation to Mr. Osher and The Bernard Osher Foundation for their support and encouragement.”

The Osher grants — $500,000 in current use funds and a $5 million endowment – connect Vanderbilt 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 Northwestern University also is becoming an Osher Center, providing then five Osher Centers in the eastern, western, southern and central western regions of the United States and in the Kingdom of Sweden.  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 Vanderbilt and Northwestern,” said Mary Bitterman, president of The Bernard Osher Foundation.  “Mr. Osher has been greatly impressed with Vanderbilt’s leadership in the integrative medicine field and is confident that it will make valuable contributions to the network of Osher Centers across the country and in Sweden.”

The Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Vanderbilt is a member of the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine.  The 57 members of the Consortium are committed to caring for the whole person and evidence-based practice.

The goals of the Osher Centers for Integrative Medicine include: conducting research on integrative medicine, therapies and developing an empirical case for their application; reaching out to the larger community with an emphasis on preventive care, conducting seminars and conferences to educate medical practitioners and the general public about the benefits of non-traditional approaches to good health and health care; and establishing clinical treatment programs in which the knowledge and resources of integrative medicine can be used to directly help people and to train medical students.

“We are extremely honored to join UCSF, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Northwestern, and the Karolinska Institute in developing effective treatments to add compassion and value to our patients,” said Roy Elam, M.D., associate professor of Medicine and medical director for the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Vanderbilt.

The Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Vanderbilt provides relationship-centered care and uses an inter-professional team-based model to engage the whole person.  The Center has well-developed clinical, educational and research programs. Its 25 talented clinicians provide the following services: mindfulness training, massage therapy, nutrition coaching, health coaching, acupuncture, physical therapy, yoga, tai chi, qigong, health psychology, and integrative consultations by physicians and nurse practitioners.

“This critical support and encouragement from Bernard Osher and the Osher Foundation will facilitate an expansion of the successful and outstanding research, education and clinical services that have been developed at Vanderbilt over the past several years,” said Robert Dittus, M.D., MPH, the Albert and Bernard Werthan Professor of Medicine and associate vice chancellor for Public Health and Health Care. “Developing the evidence base for integrative medicine is a crucial step in understanding the potential impact these techniques have on improving individual and population health and establishing integrative medicine’s role in health care delivery. Taking that evidence and incorporating it into new models of care and into the education and training of health professionals are key goals of the Center.”

Vanderbilt University is also a grantee of the Foundation’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute program which supports nearly 120 universities offering non-credit, intellectually stimulating courses, lectures, and activities for older students.  The Osher Institute at Vanderbilt allows seasoned adults continuing educational opportunities that keep them in touch with a larger world in an informal, supportive and relaxed environment.