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MLTalks: Minding the Gaps In Medical Research

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Minding the gaps in medical research: Integrative medicine meets systems biology

A “side effect” of medical specialization and scientific reductionism is that our understanding of cross-system connections in human health and disease is remarkably limited. This affects the ability of medicine to care for the whole patient. Research at the Osher Center draws on systems biology frameworks from both modern science and non-conventional healing traditions to inform a more integrated model of health and health care.

This talk presented examples of current integrative and translational research linking connective tissue, movement, mind-body interactions, postural control, and pain. These examples highlighted the importance of inter-disciplinary teams for identifying gaps in knowledge and “connecting the dots."

Helene Langevin, MD

Dr. Langevin is a professor in residence of medicine at Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women's Hospital where she directs the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. Through translational research, the Osher Center aims to test and implement integrated patient care, positioning itself as a thought leader in forging medical connections at the physiological, clinical, and community levels.

As well, Dr. Langevin is a professor of neurology, orthopedics, and rehabilitation at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. She also serves as the principal investigator of two NIH-funded studies investigating the role of connective tissue in low back pain and the mechanisms of manual and movement-based therapies. Her previous studies in humans and animal models have shown that mechanical tissue stimulation during both tissue stretch and acupuncture causes dynamic cellular responses in connective tissue. The Boston Globe has described her as a “celebrity” in the field of acupuncture.

Peter Wayne, PhD

Peter Wayne is an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He is the research director for the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine where he was previously the director of Tai Chi and mind-body research programs at the Osher Research Center. Prior to that, Dr. Wayne was the founding research director at the New England School of Acupuncture.

The primary focus of his research is twofold: evaluating how mind-body and related complementary and alternative medicine practices clinically impact chronic health conditions, and understanding the physiological and psychological mechanisms underlying observed therapeutic effects. He has been a principal or co-investigator on more than 20 NIH-funded studies, and is involved in the teaching and training of students and fellows in integrative medicine research.

Tenzin Priyadarshi

By most accounts, The Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi is an innovative thinker, a philosopher educator, a philanthropist, a polymath and a monk. He is the Founding Director of The Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a center dedicated to inquiry, dialogue, and education on the ethical and humane dimensions of life. Venerable Tenzin’s unusual background encompasses entering a Buddhist monastery at the age of 10 years to receiving graduate education at Harvard ,with degrees ranging from Philosophy to Physics to International Relations.

He is also Director of the Ethics Initiative at MIT Media Lab and a Director’s Fellow there, as well as a Tribeca Disruptive Fellow.

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