Complementary and Integrative Medicine

Pictured: Natural healing plants are a popular source of complementary medicines.

The Department of Complementary and Integrative Medicine (CIM) is responsible for the development and dissemination of alternative medical therapy, as well as the investigation and research of the scientific foundation of these techniques. The medical traditions of many of the cultures represented in Hawai‘i have endured for centuries and have given solace and comfort to millions through the ages. Western medicine is beginning to investigate the scientific foundation of many of these techniques, but much still remains to be learned to provide credible scientific information to guide patients in the choice of appropriate alternative therapies. This has become a major public health issue as recognized by the National Institutes of Health.

Hawai‘i has a well-established community of alternative medicine practitioners and a number of resident experts in the integration of western complementary therapies. With Hawai‘i’s unique environment and population, JABSOM can become a world leader in the scientific investigation of alternative therapies, providing insights into the potential application and pitfalls of these techniques.

The CIM department is involved in a variety of funded research programs and provides research experience for students at all levels collaborations with other UH programs such as Chinese Studies, Native Hawaiian Health and Ecology & Health faculties have also been developed to reduce and eliminate health disparities in Hawaii and improve the health of Hawaiʻi’s people.

The CIM department also hosts two JABSOM quantitative health sciences core facilities: Bioinformatics Core Facility and Biostatistics Core Facility. Department offers courses in research design, bioinformatics and biostatistics, and other quantitative health sciences areas. Department faculty and staff provide quantitative expertise and support to multiple institutional infrastructure grants, including RMATRIX, BRIDGES, and INBRE.

Graduate Study

A graduate program leading to the MS in biomedical sciences is offered, with an emphasis of clinical research for clinicians, researchers, educators, and consumers. Clinical research is the study of methods used to investigate clinical problems in medicine. Available in Plan A (thesis), the program requires a combination of course work and original research, the latter forming the basis of the master’s thesis.

Students enrolled in the program acquire skills in biostatistics and epidemiology, and master the scientific principles that underlie clinical research methods. They develop the ability to identify and resolve ethical issues in clinical research, to ensure the safeguarding of human subjects, and to understand the workings of Institutional Review Boards and other relevant requirements. In addition, students increase their capacity in obtaining research funding from agencies such as the National Institute of Health.

In addition to offering knowledge and skills needed for careers in clinical research, the program functions a supportive mechanism for newly trained investigators, actively facilitating career development and encouraging research collaborations, particularly those related to research health disparities. By providing high quality training to doctoral and post-doctoral candidates, the program aims to increase the mass of clinical research at UH Mānoa, including minority investigators. Targeting junior faculty, fellows, residents, and doctoral candidates from biomedical sciences, nursing, social work, psychology and public health, the interdisciplinary nature of the program broadens students’ perspectives and increases opportunities for innovative, cross-disciplinary collaborations in clinical research.

Graduates of the program pursue teaching careers in academia, as well as research careers in academia, government laboratories, and pharmaceutical companies. In addition, some graduates find employment in hospitals or private businesses.

Department Contact:
Dr. John Chen, Professor and Interim Chair
651 Ilalo Street
MEB 2nd Floor
Honolulu, HI 96813

Phone: (808) 692-0889