Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) has established a Department of Integrative Medicine and Nutritional Sciences, the first of its kind in academic medicine. Housed in Jefferson’s Sidney Kimmel Medical College, the new department formalizes the teaching of integrative medicine alongside other medical departments.
The initiative is supported by a $20 million commitment from The Marcus Foundation Inc., which previously provided philanthropic funding to create the Marcus Institute of Integrative Health–Jefferson Health.
“The past decade has seen a surge in the number of medical colleges requiring courses in integrative medicine, mirroring the public’s desire to seek out these therapies,” said Mark L. Tykocinski, MD, Jefferson provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, and the Anthony F. and Gertrude M. DePalma Dean of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College. “We’re grateful for the Marcus Foundation’s visionary investment, which will enable Jefferson to define the gold standard of excellence in evidence-based, patient-centric integrative care, research and education.”
Integrative medicine addresses the whole person—body, mind and spirit—to help people optimize health and maintain vitality long-term, utilizing a broad range of evidence-based therapies.
Jefferson’s Department of Integrative Medicine and Nutritional Sciences features a novel curriculum focusing on the clinical applications of integrative medicine with an emphasis on functional biochemistry, nutrient-based therapies, mind-body neuroscience, novel mechanisms of healing and emerging therapies. Initial programming will include a master’s degree and several certificate programs, including Integrative Nutrition and Mind-Body Medicine. In addition, the department will award a unique one-year onsite fellowship in Integrative and Nutritional Medicine for physicians who have completed an ACGME-approved residency program.
“Jefferson has been a key player in bringing integrative medicine into the mainstream, building a comprehensive program that’s unparalleled anywhere in the world,” said Daniel A. Monti, MD, MBA, senior vice president and CEO of Jefferson’s Marcus Institute of Integrative Health, as well as the Ellen and Ron Caplan Professor and chair of the new department. “Establishing the nation’s first academic department of integrative medicine is a natural evolution of Jefferson’s longstanding leadership and a reflection of how far the field has come.”
The grant from the Marcus Foundation will also kickstart four new lines of scientific inquiry into the efficacy of integrative treatments. Leveraging the diagnostic power of the region’s first PET-MRI scanner, the Department of Integrative Medicine and Nutritional Sciences will study the effect of integrative treatments in Lyme disease, Parkinson’s disease, congestive heart failure and chronic fatigue.
“Patients are looking for the kind of care that addresses mental and physical well-being, and the Marcus Foundation uniquely understands that consumer revolution,” said Stephen K. Klasko, MD, MBA, president of Thomas Jefferson University and CEO of Jefferson Health. “This incredible gift will help future physicians break through the silos in medicine to understand a more holistic view of care, while fueling new research to make sure we present these options in a safe, well-researched, responsible way.”
Dr. Monti called this a historic moment for integrative medicine as a field and at Jefferson.
“It opens new doorways for improving lives with new perspectives,” he said. “This commitment positions Jefferson to embark on a journey most other institutions would not dream of.”