Integrative medicine refers to the integration of alternative therapies into western, science-based medicine. For this to be done, these methods must first undergo stringent scientific evaluation, something which is not currently done to any significant extent. Areas of interest to the researchers include acupuncture, herbal medicine, naprapathy, chiropractics, meditation and hypnosis. The health impact of lifestyle factors, such as sleep, stress, diet, and sexual and social relationships, will also be studied.
The Osher Centre’s first research projects were begun last autumn. One is a study being led by Professor Ingvar into the placebo effect, the term for the improvement in health that is not attributable to the medicine itself.
“Professor Ingvar has a unique ability to conduct scientific inquiries from both a biological and psychological angle, using excellent empirical methods, “ says Karin Harms-Ringdahl, professor of physiotherapy and chairwoman of the Osher Centre board. “He has some very interesting visions on what research into integrative medicine can achieve as regards improving human health. He’s also got considerable experience setting up and leading this type of operation.”
Karolinska Institutet’s venture into integrative medicine has been made possible by a donation from the American businessman Bernard Osher and his Swedish-born wife Barbro Osher. The donation of some SKr 43 million, which was made in 2005, is the largest in Karolinska Institutet’s almost 200-year history as a medical university. The Oshers have previously started similar centres at the University of California in San Francisco and the Harvard Medical School in Boston.
Professor Ingvar was most recently the head of Karolinska Institutet’s MR Centre. He is also head of the Department of Clinical Neuroscience.