Media Releases

The University of Toronto and The Scarborough Hospital announce new Centre for Integrative Medicine

September 17, 2014

Partnership will investigate complementary and alternative medicine, including traditional Chinese medicine

Toronto, ON — Today, the University of Toronto (U of T) and The Scarborough Hospital (TSH) announced a partnership that will provide new answers for the 74% of Canadians who are using some form of complementary and alternative medicine, including traditional Chinese medicine. Called the Centre for Integrative Medicine (CIM), it will bring together researchers from U of T’s Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy and Faculty of Medicine alongside health care professionals at TSH to provide evidence-driven practices. Together, U of T and TSH will create a living laboratory that will allow us to study ways to safely and effectively integrate evidence-informed complementary therapies and traditional Chinese medicine with conventional medical care.

Led by Professor Lynda Balneaves, the Centre’s inaugural director, CIM will focus on research, as well as outreach to both patients and health care professionals to help them make evidence-informed decisions about the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).

“A vast majority of Canadians are using some type of CAM. This includes different practices and products, including natural health products, massage, meditation and acupuncture, to name just a few. And many are doing so without consulting a health care professional,” explained Balneaves, who is also the KY and Betty Ho Chair in Integrative Medicine at U of T. “The Centre’s role will be to explore how Canadians are using these therapies, how these therapies interact with other care they are receiving and to communicate our knowledge to ensure they are used safely and effectively.”

The Centre will take an interprofessional approach, bringing together scientists, physicians, pharmacists, nurses, CAM practitioners and others who work in the health care field. U of T’s Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy and Faculty of Medicine will be actively engaged in the scientific research that will ground the Centre’s evidence-based approach.

“Because an overwhelming number of Canadians are using complementary and alternative medicines, it is critical that we understand how these products and therapies work and how they interact with conventional care practices and medications,” said Professor Heather Boon, Dean of the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy. “By undertaking a rigorous scientific evaluation of these therapies, we will be in a better position to understand what works – and what doesn’t – and provide the evidence necessary to guide their proper use to a patient base that is eager to utilize these products.”

A Clinical Hub will be established at TSH’s Birchmount campus that will help patients manage their day-to-day health with an emphasis on disease prevention, health promotion and chronic disease management for conditions such as diabetes.

“The establishment of this Centre at our Birchmount campus is in keeping with The Scarborough Hospital’s commitment to serving our diverse community. It also fulfills our mission of providing an outstanding care experience that meets the unique needs of each and every patient and our vision of being recognized as Canada’s leader in providing the best health care for a global community,” said Robert Biron, President and Chief Executive Officer of TSH.

A fundraising campaign will soon be launched to support the Centre and its development.

“Already, this Centre has attracted considerable interest from our extended community who recognize the important contribution it can make to improving our system of care here at home and around the world. Thanks to the generosity of KY and Betty Ho, we have been able to establish a chair in this important field. But with further support, we can establish a Centre that the Scarborough community deserves and that is representative of the world-class research for which U of T is known,” said Catharine Whiteside, Dean of Medicine and Vice Provost, Relations with Health Care Institutions.

Phase one of the Centre’s development, which is already underway, is focused on consulting the local community to ensure CIM serves the needs of this area. It will also establish the strong foundations needed for effective clinical care and research. By spring 2015, the Centre will launch a series of pilot projects that we meet the needs of the TSH community and be ready to announce its long-term plans.

There will be an official launch of the Centre at an event in October. The details are:

Date:                     Friday, October 17, 2014

Time:                     9:30 – 11:00 a.m.; remarks at 10:00 a.m.

Location:              Colonel Irene Stickland Centre, Birchmount Campus,
The Scarborough Hospital, 3030 Birchmount Road, Toronto, M1W  3W3

The event is open to media, but prior registration is required. To register, please contact Krista Luxton, Communications Officer, The Scarborough Hospital. Tel: 416-438-2911. Ext. 8090; Email: kluxton@tsh.to.

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For more information, please contact:

 

Liam Mitchell                                                              Holly-Ann Campbell

Associate Director, Communications                     Director of Communications & Engagement

Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto          The Scarborough Hospital

Tel: 416-978-4672                                                       Tel: 416-438-2911 ext. 8308

Email: liam.mitchell@utoronto.ca                           Email: hocampbell@tsh.to