Noted NIH Researcher Josephine Briggs to Speak at Portland Symposium

Annual SPARC Conference Highlights Emerging Trends in CAM Research


Marilynn Considine
Ofc: (503) 552-1504
Cell: (503) 896-6487

PORTLAND, Ore. (April 10, 2009)—The 4th Annual Symposium for Portland-Area Research on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (SPARC), hosted by a consortium of Portland medical schools including Oregon Health & Science University and National College of Natural Medicine, will feature Josephine P. Briggs, MD, director of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), as its keynote speaker on Saturday, April 18 in OHSU Auditorium (Old Library).

NCCAM is the federal government’s lead agency for rigorous scientific research on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). NCCAM is one of the 27 institutes and centers that make up the National Institutes of Health within the US Department of Health and Human Services. The agency has funded more than 1,200 research projects at scientific institutions across the US and around the world.

Dr. Briggs’s keynote address, “Promise in Research on Complementary and Alternative Medicine,” will review the history of NCCAM, present data on the public use of CAM and outline areas of promise for future CAM research, a subject of particular interest to CAM researchers. Heather Zwickey, PhD, director of National College of Natural Medicine’s (NCNM’s) Helfgott Research Institute said, “Dr. Briggs has been a leader in the field of biomedical investigation. SPARC is our opportunity to share the exciting research being conducted in Portland. We’re very excited and honored to have her join us at SPARC this year.”

“The evidence base behind CAM therapies is growing exponentially, thanks in part to the integrated efforts of Portland’s medical institutions,” Dr. Zwickey continued. She said that the NIH has noted that a sizeable percentage of federal grants in natural or alternative medicine are awarded to Oregon researchers. In addition to Dr. Briggs’ keynote address, presentations include overviews of studies now under way, as well as a look at the future direction of CAM and CAM research. The symposium is expected to attract 200 attendees.

Portland is uniquely positioned as a hub for CAM research. Not only is it home to a top-tiered biomedical university, Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), but it also is the center for a number of thriving CAM institutions. According to Zwickey, this proximity is yielding dozens of collaborations among Portland-area researchers, “OHSU has played an integral role in helping to build research capacity at Portland’s CAM institutions, with its researchers and physicians serving as co-investigators on many cutting-edge studies.”

Zwickey noted that OHSU’s research efforts place it squarely at the forefront of the CAM research field, along with other world-class research institutions, such as Harvard and Columbia University. These studies include the efficacy of acupuncture use as anesthesia during surgery, the effect of a naturopathic anti-inflammatory diet on inflammatory markers in diabetics, and the effect of mind-body relaxation therapies for people suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The day-long symposium on emerging directions in CAM research has become a key event for Portland’s research community. In addition to OHSU and NCNM, participating institutions include Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, Oregon Collaborative for Integrative medicine, Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, Portland State University, University of Portland, and Western State Chiropractic College. For the past four years, SPARC has been the nexus for these institutions to present research and network to form new collaborations.

The event has been planned and implemented in accordance with the essential areas and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education through the joint sponsorship of OHSU and NCNM. Visit for more information about the SPARC conference.

ABOUT NCNM: Founded in 1956, NCNM is the oldest accredited naturopathic medical school in North America. A nonprofit college of natural medicine, NCNM offers four-year degree programs in Naturopathic Medicine and Classical Chinese Medicine. Its teaching clinics offer free and low-cost medical care throughout the Portland metropolitan area, with approximately 40,000 patient visits per year. NCNM’s Helfgott Research Institute is a nonprofit research institute that conducts rigorous independent research to advance the science of natural medicine in order to improve clinical practice.

About OHSU: Oregon Health & Science University is the state’s only health and research university, and Oregon’s only academic health center. OHSU is Portland’s largest employer and the fourth largest in Oregon (excluding government). OHSU’s size contributes to its ability to provide many services and community support activities not found anywhere else in the state. It serves patients from every corner of the state, and is a conduit for learning for more than 3,400 students and trainees. OHSU is the source of more than 200 community outreach programs that bring health and education services to every county in the state.